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Iron Lady of India: Sharmila trades hunger for politics, after she ended her epic 16-year hunger strike in August

Irom Sharmila announced her intention to run for office to carry on her struggle against the abuses

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Irom Sharmila. Youtube

Kolkata, India – As she ended her epic 16-year hunger strike last month in protest against alleged brutality and sweeping powers by India’s military in the country’s northeastern state of Manipur , Irom Sharmila announced her intention to run for office to carry on her struggle against the abuses. Sitting on her bed at a Vaishnava….repubhubembed{display:none;}

Kolkata, India – As she ended her epic 16-year hunger strike last month in protest against alleged brutality and sweeping powers by India’s military in the country’s northeastern state of Manipur , Irom Sharmila announced her intention to run for office to carry on her struggle against the abuses. Sitting on her bed at a Vaishnava….repubhubembed{display:none;}

 

  • P.K. Willey

    I am deeply grateful that Sharmila recognized the futility of restoring bonds of what should be normal respect between her self and those who wield power, who ceaselessly demonstrated that they would not listen to her voice of calm and patient reasoning. I hope she will soon realize she is a WORLD SISTER, not just Manipur’s or India’s. I hope we hear her voice resounding all over this planet!

    In Gandhi’s day, although the power structures were just as rigid, the Brits themselves, had their own national idealism, of being people who were fair and just. They were at all just or fair not as rulers, and rulers have rarely been in any clime or time. Rulers have always kept armies to protect their powerful interests. However, that was their ethos, and Gandhi could successfully appeal to it.. He saw that one could fast to reform a lover, but not a tyrant, a lover being one who has HUMAN CARING.

    What is the Indian ethos? It seems that the suffering Fast of many of her sons and daughters has borne little dialogue, or fruit. Sunderlal Bahuguna ji of the Himalaya, for the cause of not only all people in India, but the Earth itself, being one hero who comes to mind. . World wide, not only in India, human caring has declined. We are deadened to suffering in others, deadened to feeling it in ourselves due to the inundation of news and gruesome images that appear to normalize horrific violence. Yet we do not start out this way, we come into this world full of tender feelings, prizing love above all. Sharmila has a much bigger role to play in this world

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  • P.K. Willey

    I am deeply grateful that Sharmila recognized the futility of restoring bonds of what should be normal respect between her self and those who wield power, who ceaselessly demonstrated that they would not listen to her voice of calm and patient reasoning. I hope she will soon realize she is a WORLD SISTER, not just Manipur’s or India’s. I hope we hear her voice resounding all over this planet!

    In Gandhi’s day, although the power structures were just as rigid, the Brits themselves, had their own national idealism, of being people who were fair and just. They were at all just or fair not as rulers, and rulers have rarely been in any clime or time. Rulers have always kept armies to protect their powerful interests. However, that was their ethos, and Gandhi could successfully appeal to it.. He saw that one could fast to reform a lover, but not a tyrant, a lover being one who has HUMAN CARING.

    What is the Indian ethos? It seems that the suffering Fast of many of her sons and daughters has borne little dialogue, or fruit. Sunderlal Bahuguna ji of the Himalaya, for the cause of not only all people in India, but the Earth itself, being one hero who comes to mind. . World wide, not only in India, human caring has declined. We are deadened to suffering in others, deadened to feeling it in ourselves due to the inundation of news and gruesome images that appear to normalize horrific violence. Yet we do not start out this way, we come into this world full of tender feelings, prizing love above all. Sharmila has a much bigger role to play in this world

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Racial Discrimination Faced by North Easterners shows the Dark Side of Modern Society

India prides itself on its so called diversity but these are just plain talks. The real situation on the ground is terrible for all Northeasterners, especially womenfolk. People from Northeast are racially abused by mainland Indians as "chinkis" This derogatory term means an individual with slanted eyes.

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A group of Manipuri girls in Imphal. wikimedia

– by Gaurav Tyagi

  • The author spent several years in Delhi and sadly witnessed numerous unfortunate incidents in Delhi involving shoddy treatment of Northeast women and girls especially by Jats of urban villages like Katwaria Sarai, Ber Sarai and Munirka.

Northeastern states of India comprises of Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim & Mizoram. This region is also referred to as the Seven Sisters. The physical characteristics of the inhabitants of these states are different than the Indian people. Due to which they face racial discrimination in other parts of the country.

Northeasterners have oriental looks and are hard-working, friendly people. Matriarchy is practised among many groups in the Northeast. Successive Indian governments neglected this whole region, as a result it has stayed backwards in terms of infrastructure.

Controversial AFSPA

Tourists need special permits from the government authorities to visit many regions of Northeast India. In 1958, the Indian government passed a law, the Armed Forces Special Act (AFSPA) that applies to various seven Northeastern states. This grants security forces the power to search properties without a warrant, to arrest people and to use deadly force if there is “reasonable suspicion” that a person is acting against the state.

Army officers have legal immunity for their actions as per AFSPA; there can be no prosecution, suit or any other legal proceeding against anyone acting under this law. Indian army frequently misuses its power by harassing the residents of Northeast region under the pretext of this draconian law.

Social Exclusion of the Seven Sisters

An activist from Manipur, Irom Chanu Sharmila holds the world record as the longest hunger striker”. Sharmila grew up in Manipur, one of the Seven Sister States in India’s northeast, which has suffered from continuous neglect by the Indian government for decades.

Sharmila’s primary demand to the Indian government has been the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA).

She started her fast in Malom on 5 November 2000 and vowed not to eat, drink, comb her hair or look in a mirror until AFSPA was repealed. She ended her hunger strike on 9 August 2016 after 16 years of fasting. Sadly, AFSPA is still in force. Ordinary people of Northeast India are tormented by Delhi through its army.

No major industry exists in this region, therefore, the employment prospects for the locals are practically non-existent. Basic infrastructure like roads and electricity supply is not up to the mark in this area. Youngsters from these parts migrate to big cities of India like Delhi, Bombay, Bangalore etc. to find jobs.

Assam
Assam Tea is globally known for its quality and taste uniqueness. Wikimedia

Racial Chauvinism

The women of North East are good looking and fashion conscious. Majority of Indian males are sexually frustrated perverts. They harass Northeast women on a daily basis. People from Northeast are racially abused by mainland Indians as “chinkis”, This derogatory term means an individual with slanted eyes.

The same abusive word is also used by the majority of Indians while referring to the Chinese citizens. State of affairs is dreadful in New Delhi, which is the capital city of India. Delhi has many localities known as Urban Villages. These places are just villages in a name. They do not have any farming land.

Owners of houses in these neighborhoods have got tall buildings erected by flouting all building laws, regulations in order to build the maximum number of rooms and put them on rent to earn easy tax-free cash. Northeast migrants to Delhi are overcharged higher rents by these deceitful landlords.

Urban villages, especially in areas around South Delhi are dominated in particular by a community known as ‘Jats’. They own most of the houses in these parts.

The Jat community comprises of male chauvinists of the worst kind on this planet. They earn huge tax-free income every month as rent from Northeasterners and other migrants to Delhi; as a result, most of them don’t do much productive work. They just sit in groups, play cards and drink liquor from morning-night.

All Indian political parties are scared of Jats as they resort to hooliganism to blackmail central as well as state governments in order to get concessions for their community.

These Jat men have made the life of Northeastern women in Delhi a living hell. These Northeastern women cannot go back to their homes in Northeast because they face sexual violence at the hands of Indian army personnel furthermore; there are no job prospects in the region. They are teased, sexually harassed and even raped by these unscrupulous Jat house owners and their family members.

Delhi Police also has plenty of Jat personnel so, these poor, unfortunate Northeast women cannot even complain about their ordeal to the Police.

A few women, who gather the courage to approach police stations to lodge complaints are ridiculed and abused by the Police staff as women of loose character, ‘chinki whores’ etc.

Northeasterners are highly depressed and frustrated due to this daily ordeal. Their culture, language, food habits and norms are all entirely different from the mainland Indians.

Does Unity in Diversity really exist in India?

India prides itself on its so called diversity but these are just plain talks. The real situation on the ground is terrible for all Northeasterners, especially womenfolk.

The citizens of all seven Northeastern states should not tolerate this discrimination anymore. They must pressurize their local politicians to raise this matter seriously with the central government in Delhi alternatively, they could completely boycott their so called political representatives.

“No taxation without representation”, this slogan originated during the 1750’s and 1760’s in U.S.A. It summarized the primary grievance of American colonists in the thirteen colonies against the British Parliament. This ultimately culminated in the successful American Revolution.

No voting without safety & respect

Northeastern citizens across the entire length and breadth of India should unite under the slogan; “No voting without safety & respect.”

Election Commission of India has introduced NOTA (None of the above) on the ballot papers as an option for the voters. It means that the voter does not find any political party’s candidate competent enough, that’s why they exercise the NOTA option by not voting for a candidate of any political party.

If, the ordinary residents of all seven northeastern states unite together and press NOTA during all state assembly as well as Parliamentary elections, then their local politicians, as well as political parties in Delhi, would definitely wake up to their serious grievances and initiate measures to prevent this dastardly treatment meted out to Northeast citizens in India.

FootnoteThis composition is dedicated to three beautiful, kind, compassionate, independent & friendly girls from Northeast India. Suzie, Tanya and Mikii were friends of the author in Delhi during the late 1990’s before we lost contact with each other. These girls were unfortunate victims of numerous atrocities perpetrated on them by Jats.

The writer sincerely hopes that all three of them are presently leading happy, peaceful lives somewhere and women from the Northeast region of India do not face any future trauma in Delhi as well as other cities in India.

– The author is a Master Degree holder in International Tourism & Leisure Studies from Netherlands and is based in China.