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Will Irom Sharmila Have A Meal?

Discussion in 'Hard Talk' started by Aman Singh, Dec 3, 2009.

  1. Aman Singh

    Aman Singh
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    Jun 1, 2004
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    North East has sent twin rays of hope, and we are grateful for any ray of hope, considering the treatment bein meted out to the Sikhs and their concerns in India. For a community that has seen an aspirational struggle pushed to the margins, and the machinations of the Indian establishment to corrupt, bad mouth, ill-tag and then denigrate a movement where hundreds of Sikh youth made supreme sacrifices but refused to budge from having a proactive engagement with the community concerns, the developments in the Nagaland Assembly show how better run movements and smart strategizing can produce desirable results and make even a nuclear power buckle down.

    Hats off to the brave people of Nagaland, the people's movements and the religious and social leaders who never ditched the youth waging a struggle for their land and identity. It is a heartening story that the Nagaland Assembly on Nov 27 passed unanimously a resolution recognising the underground movement and said these men and women whom the government of India was never tired of calling insurgents or terrorists actually “have selflessly worked, fought and sacrificed” for the “aspirations and rights of the Naga people.” The accompanying article on this page tells the full story of the Resolution. Indian media that would normally have jumped at the development and would have termed it anti-national stand of the Naga Assembly has remained silent, but because New Delhi knew that any understanding with the NSCN would stand halted in its tracks if the Naga Assembly was pushed into a confrontationist mode, it gave a clear signal to the apologists of the establishment. Hence, the shocking silence of the media at the development which, must we concede, is music to our ears.

    But what is not music is the silence that we have been hearing from the ruling Akali Dal ranks and leadership for almost 15 years now. When was the last time anyone asked Prakash Singh Badal why there is no plan to raise a memorial to the memory of the martyrs of Operation Bluestar? Why has the Punjab Assembly not condemned the Operation Bluestar when the Sikh Quom was marking its 25th year? Why was a special session of the Assembly not convened to discuss the utter apathy of the Union Government? Now, Tarlochan Singh, an Independent MP in Rajya Sabha, has moved a Resolution asking the Parliament to discuss and condemn the anti-Sikh pogrom. Want to talk about delayed justice?

    In this shameless scenario emerges the soothing, halting, feeble voice of a woman who hasn't eaten a morsel in ten years, is a bundle of bones, lives with a plastic tube inserted in his nose and hasn't combed her hair in months. Irom Sharmila is a picture of what she calls "bounden duty." Unparalleled in the history of political protest anywhere in the world, she has been fasting to shame and force the Indian government to scrap the Armed Forces Special Powers Act under which the security personnel have been killing, arresting, torturing hundreds of youth. In this age of hundreds of TV channels and unprecedented media coverage potential, the world knows little about the woman whose response to extreme violence has been extreme peace.

    How much less violent you can be than not eating?

    Every single soul in the corridors iof power in
    Delhi, every one ith an ear to the ground in North East knows the Act is draconian in letter, more draconian in spirit. It is not the human rights groups but the officialdom that concedes that since it was imposed, thousands of people have been killed by state forces in Manipur. In just 2009, the officially admitted number stands at 265. Human rights activists say it is above 300, which averages out at one or two extrajudicial killings every day.

    Now, some movement is becoming visible. The AFSPA seems to be either on its way out, or will undergo drastic amendments. We strongly urge for a unilateral action that shows leadership and retrieves the best of a worst situation. New Delhi must send a signal that it has shame left. It cannot rise to the level set by Nagaland Assembly, but it must fall too short. If AFSPA does not go lock, stock and barrel, it will be difficult for anyone to ask Irom Sharmila to swallow a morsel. It will wrench our souls to see her die, but it will doom us forever to her cause die.
    2 December 2009

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