TODAY -

July 10-11, 2004 to July 2015 Language of public protest
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: July 13 2015 -

People offering tributes to late Thangjam Manorama on July 11 2015
People offering tributes to late Thangjam Manorama on July 11 2015 :: Pix - TSE



Irom Sharmila. The name is synonymous with the growing demand to revoke the Armed Forces Special Powers Act from the State and by all means it is this lady who has managed to focus international limelight on this Army Act, which many have dubbed as draconian.

Fasting for 15 years is no joke and herein lies the conviction of the lady in question.

Maybe it is because she is still alive but it is not her fast that brought the Prime Minister of the country rushing down to Manipur, but the series of intense agitation that was launched after the brutalised and bullet riddled body of Th Manorama was recovered after she was picked up by Assam Rifles personnel in the intervening night of July 10 and 11 in 2004.

For days Imphal was crippled and significant to note that in as much as the protest was to demand befitting punishment of the personnel involved in the brutal killing of Manorama it was also in demand for the revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

Says something significant that it was and is not the peaceful protest taken up by Irom Sharmila that forced the then Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, to fly down here but the intense agitation, most notably the nude protest staged by womenfolk in front of Kangla, demanding the revocation of the draconian Army Act.

The demand was so vociferous and intense that the State Government had to roll back the Disturbed Area tag from the Municipality areas of Imphal and make AFSPA redundant.

Says something significant that the Government is ready to listen only when the people take to the streets.

The people too seem to have taken a leaf out from this example and the current agitation to demand an adequate legislation to check the inflow of migrant workers should explain this.

Th Manorama is dead and the protest after her death too has subsided. But her memory continues to drive the people which is perhaps underlined by the tributes paid to her memory at her Bamon Kampu residence on July 11.

The death anniversary was no doubt jointly organised by the Thangjam Manorama Memorial Trust, Bamon Kampu and the Apunba Lup, but the spirit of the day would not have been lost on anyone.

Rewind to 2004 and one will surely remember the much hyped Justice (Retd) Jeevan Reddy Committee which was announced by the then Prime Minister in Imphal to look into the said Army Act.

That the recommendations of the Committee have been kept in cold storage is there for all to see and even 11 years after the uproar, the Act continues.

This despite the fact that Sharmila has been on an indefinite fast since November 2000. There is nothing much to suggest that the Act will go anytime in the near future.

There is also no indication that Sharmila will give up her fast.

The manner in Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh waved away the question on AFSPA during the conclave with Chief Ministers of North Eastern States at Guwahati on July 11 on the ground that there was no proposal to review the said Act at the conclave should underline the point that the Act will continue.

More than obvious that the said Act will continue further alienating the people of the North East region.

Not something recommended to win over the people.



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