TODAY -

Would the 12 anti-AFSPA nude protesters be honoured?
Source: Chronicle News Service

Imphal, April 04 2022: On July 15, 2004, a dramatic scene unfolded as 12 Manipuri women stripped naked in front of the western gate of Kangla Fort, which used to serve as a base of.17 Assam Rifles, demanding withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from the state.

As the Manipur government announced on Sunday to honour Irom Chanu Sharmila for her 16-year long fast against AFSPA, one needs to ask whether the 12 "Mothers of Manipur" deserved to be honoured as well.

People of Manipur have not forgotten the brutal rape and murder of the then 32-year-old Thangjam Manorama by troopers of 17 Assam Rifles after being picked up from her house on the night of July 10, 2004 .

Her bullet-riddled body was found the next morning, sparking protests across the state.

Five days after her body was found, the 12 mothers stripped naked in front of the western gate of Kangla, shouting and holding banners inscribed with slogans like "Indian Army rape us...we all are Manorama's mothers" and "Kill us, Rape us, Flesh us" .

The names of Lourembam Nganbi (71) of Bishnupur Ward no 8 Thiyam Leikai; Taruni (80) of Top Khongnang Makhong; Thokchom Ramani (93) of Heirangoithong Maibam Leikai; Yumlembam Memma (85) of Thambalkhong; Jamini (75) of Khagempalli; Ibemhal (75) of Uripok; Loitam Ibetombi (70) of Palace Compound; Soibam Momon (73) of Uripok Polem Leikai; Laishram Gyaneshwori (71) of Nagamapal; Angom ongbi Jibonmala (70) of Uripok Sinam Leikai; Moirangthem Sorojini (70) of Lamphelpat and Haobam Tombi (67) of Lamphelpat will forever remain etched in the pages of history.

Of the 12 mothers, 3 have already passed away.

It has been 10 years since Loitam Ibetombi of Palace Compound passed away, while Ibemhal of Uripok breathed her last 3 years ago.

Meanwhile, the first death anniversary of Soibam Momon of Uripok Polem Leikai is coming up.

Although these 12 mothers always shouldered huge responsibility in various movements of the state they have never been recognised or given due respect by any of the successive governments.

It was due to the pro test of the mothers along with the intense movement launched by the people and the student organisations that the then Congress government was compelled to withdraw AFSPA from 7 assembly segments under the jurisdiction of the erstwhile Imphal Municipal Council.

Since then, 18 years have passed and the governments in power at the time did not initiate for further withdrawal but continued to extend the "Disturbed Area" status every six months citing law and order problem.

However, the BJP government in the state, which is in its second term in power, announced the withdrawal of the draconian Act from the jurisdiction of 9 police stations in 6 districts on March 31.Despite it being crystal clear that the complete withdrawal of the Act is the wish of the people of Manipur, the state government refused to do so citing law and order situation and the need for security measures along the border areas of Manipur.

Nonetheless, CM N Biren gave his assurances of pressuring the centre for complete withdrawal of AFSPA after assessing the law and order situation.

As such, it can be said that the 12 mothers have been able to achieve their goal for withdrawal of AFSPA from the state albeit partly.

The families of most of the mothers are not in good conditions but they still step forward to fight for the rights of the people.

Thus, it is a matter of asking the question on whether the state government needs to honour and felicitate the 12 mothers, who bared their dignity and staged the historic nude protest on July 15, 2004 on behalf of the people of the state.

Speaking to The People's Chronicle in this regard, one of the mothers Lourembam Nganbi, who is also the president of Apunba Manipur Kanba Ima Lup (AMKIL) pointed out that what the people of Manipur truly want is the full withdrawal of AFSPA from the state.

However, the government is mocking the people with partial withdrawal of the pro-military Act.

The claim of putting a stop on fake encounters in the state is even more ridiculous, considering it was the movement of the people, the mothers, and students, and the victory obtained in 6 of the many cases filed by Extra Judicial Execution Victim Families Association Manipur (EEVFAM) at the Supreme Court, which lowered fake encounters in the state.

The daylight killing of Ch Sanjit and Th Rabina, the photographic evidences of which were published by Tehelka Magazine, also aided to the prolonged struggle, she remarked.


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