New Delhi: Civil rights activist Irom Sharmila, accused of a suicide bid during her fast-unto-death protest in 2006, told a court here on Tuesday she was implicated in a false case because of worldwide media attention to her struggle.
“My struggle was attaining (attention) in national and international media and because of that police violated my fundamental right and forcibly removed me from Jantar Mantar (Delhi) and implicated me in the present false case,” Sharmila, the civil rights activist from Manipur, told Metropolitan Magistrate Akash Jain.
She said thousands of innocent people have been killed by the armed forces and hundreds of rapes occurred in Manipur. “I have been demanding the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) be repealed or be lifted from Manipur as it has caused immense hardship to common man of Manipur.”
She added that no action has been taken against such things under the garb of the AFSPA.
While recording her statement as an accused in the case, Sharmila claimed to have been implicated in a false and fabricated case, saying prosecution witnesses are “interested witnesses”.
“It is correct that I sat on fast at Jantar Mantar on October 4, 2006, but I have been fasting since 2000 and the same has not affected my health. I never refused medical check-up as same was not required,” she said.
Sharmila has been on a fast for about 15 years, seeking repeal of the AFSPA. The court on March 4, 2013, framed charges against Sharmila for attempting to commit suicide in Delhi, and put her on trial after she refused to plead guilty of the offence.
Sharmila denied having attempted suicide while fasting at Jantar Mantar in Delhi.
The court on June 6 concluded the recording of statements of prosecution witnesses in the case.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Footnote– This 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.
New Delhi, September 18, 2017 : Indian and International media is full of articles regarding large number of farmers in India committing suicide due to debt pressure.
Instead of going to the root of the problem and analyzing the reasons for this phenomenon, Indian politicians have come up with an absurd idea of farm loan waivers.
Majority of Indian farmers under debt trap own very little land. Farming on such small piece of land is not economically feasible. This sector is highly unorganized. Most of the time, no planning is involved in cultivation, irrigation and harvesting.
Middlemen exploit farmers by buying their produce at a very low price and then selling it at a premium to the end consumers.
The irony is that a large number of Indian politicians claim huge incomes from agriculture while farmers starve.
In the province of Madhya Pradesh 24 farmers committed suicide this year over crop loss and failure to repay loans but 18 of the 20 cabinet ministers of the state have shown ‘agriculture’ as their main source of huge incomes.
How come politicians are earning in Billions through farming while the real farmers are struggling to make both ends meet?
Let’s examine the issue in-depth.
The income earned from agricultural land is exempt from income tax under section 10 (1) of the Income Tax Act 1961. Politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen in India launder their money misusing the above income tax clause.
Normally, one cannot own agricultural land in India unless their forefathers have been agriculturists. Rich and influential people in the country obtain agriculturist certificates by ‘greasing the palms’ of the local land officials.
Farmers are not required to maintain detailed records in India. This provides an excellent loophole to pass off unaccounted and undeclared cash as agricultural income. It is done by showing fake sales cash receipts of agricultural produce, which like other certificates can be purchased in India through bribes.
Approximately 800,000 tax declarants in India state exorbitant amounts as agricultural incomes while filing their annual income tax returns.
This income, a whopping INR. 874 Lakh Crores was eight times more than the cumulative GDP of India for the financial years 2011 and 2012.
The average annual income declared by these assesses comes out to be anywhere between Rs. 30-80 Crores, on which they don’t pay any taxes.
It’s obvious that the aforesaid is not agricultural earning instead it’s declared as agricultural income by these assesses just to avoid paying taxes.
According to National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) Delhi, with hardly any farming land has more farmers indulging in agriculture than Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and West Bengal provinces.
Delhi’s so called ‘farmers’ received Rs. 22,077 Crores in agricultural loans during 2009. In reality, these ‘self proclaimed farmers’ are the owners of big farm houses on the outskirts of the capital.
The authorities are well aware of this malpractice. The Tax Administration Reform Committee in its report in November 2014 said, “Agricultural income of non-agriculturists is being increasingly used as a conduit to avoid tax and for laundering funds, resulting in leakage to the tune of Crores in revenue annually”
The Finance Minister of India, Arun Jaitley on 26th April said that the government of India does not plan to tax the farm income.
It reveals that Indian politicians cutting across party lines indulge in this malpractice, 27% of the winning Lok Sabha M.P’s in 2014 elections have declared wealth of over Rs. 1 Crore, majority of which has been mentioned as agricultural income.
Indian opposition politicians blackmail the political party in power by indulging in spurious farmer agitations.
If there is a bumper crop then the opposition parties start shouting that prices have crashed due to over-supply in the market. When farming cultivation fails due to the vagaries of nature, then they start throwing statistics about farmers suicide.
A group of ‘self proclaimed’ farmers from Tamil Nadu province camped at Jantar Mantar in Delhi, the Indian capital city during March this year and indulged in cheap theatrics to draw attention to their protests.
The leader of this group, P. Ayyakannu is demanding that all farmers should be given loan waivers from banks and quoted highly inflated figures of farmers suicides in Tamil Nadu.
The Tamil Nadu government on 28th April, 2017 conveyed to the Supreme Court of India that no famers committed suicide in the state and clarified that a few, who took this extreme measure did it due to personal reasons.
Many farmers died due to old age and other medical issues. Ayyakannu clubbed all of them together to gather national as well as international attention.
Ayyakannu called off this whole play in Delhi on 23rd April after 40 days, when the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu came to meet these protestors.
He said that their group is giving a one month’s time-frame to the government in order to fulfill their demands otherwise, they would resume their protests in the national capital from May 25 on a bigger scale.
This impostor farmer leader Ayyakannu again came back to Delhi again on 16th July with his gang of ruffians to continue their drama.
Ayakannu as per media reports is not even a farmer, but a lawyer, who makes huge amounts of money through out of court settlements and personally owns hundreds of acres of land.
He and his bunch of hooligans all look quite healthy and well-fed. They don’t appear like destitute farmers as claimed by them.
Fake farmers like the aforementioned Ayyakannu are just the front faces of this façade in the name of farmers.
The remote controls of such characters remain in the hands of politicians, who use them for their narrow, selfish, corrupt agendas depending on the political situation at the state and national level.
The governments of Punjab, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan & U.P. provinces have waived off agricultural loans worth Billions. This has set up a very bad precedent for the rest of the country.
There are no ‘free lunches’ in this world. These half baked measures like loan waivers just make people lazy parasites.
The following steps would go a long way in helping the real distressed farmers;
Scientific soil and climate testing should be done across all farming regions in India. Farmers can then be educated about which crops to grow profitably, in how many cycles; depending on the soil conditions and climate of the region.
Implement agricultural reforms like farming co-operatives, where farmers having small agricultural land holdings can be encouraged to come together and pool their land plus resources together.
Crop storage infrastructure should be built and maintained in every village so, that farmer can store their surplus produce rather than sell it desperately at a low price.
Crop insurance must be compulsorily introduced all over the country wherein, farmers by paying a nominal amount need not bother about their crops getting destroyed through excessive rain or drought.
Organic farming needs to be encouraged instead of over-reliance on chemical fertilizers. The food waste produced by an entire village can be easily turned into biodegradable compost, through innovative schemes like Vermicomposting.
Vermicast can replace fertilizers in the agriculture fields. This would save money for the farmer and provide high quality chemical free crops.
The APMC’s (Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees) have created a coterie of middlemen, who along with the complicity of these committees, form a virtual barrier between the farmer and the consumer, paying the former a pittance for his produce and charging the latter exorbitant amounts for fruits and vegetables.
Vegetables are purchased at Rs. 2 or 3 a kg from farmers and then sold at 30 to 40 rupees per kg to urban consumers.
This setup has been going on for decades in every town and city of India. Millions of urban Indians pay artificially higher prices and majority of farmers are underpaid due to this flawed system.
The profits are made by middlemen, who do not pay taxes on these huge earnings. It is a common practice for them to store money in cash and not in banks.
These APMC’s must therefore be abolished immediately. Farmers should get direct access to the end consumer through the elimination of middlemen. This would ensure a better monetary return for farmers.
Private moneylenders in and around the villages charge a very high rate of interest from farmers. This unscrupulous sector should be bought under government regulation by bringing down the rate of interest to a rational level.
Government schools in villages are in shambles. They need to be upgraded so, that quality education at an affordable price is available to every child in the village.
This would uplift farmers children through educational empowerment. It will enable them to make a transition to non-agricultural professions in future and enhance their family earnings considerably.
The aforementioned steps would cost the government far less than what it is losing in the absurd loan waiver schemes, which anyways don’t help the poor marginal farmer at all.
As regard dealing with the fake farmers of India.
The solution entails; no farm loan waivers and bringing the agricultural income above a certain threshold under the tax bracket.
The aforesaid measures would prevent the fake farmers façade spreading rapidly all over the country, while resolving the agrarian crisis of India by assisting needy farmers of the country.
The author is a Master Degree holder in International Tourism & Leisure Studies from Netherlands and is based in China.
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