Before joining BMM, I lived a very simple life that consisted of me, my family and my friends. I was far away from the horrifying realities of this selfish world. But since two years, I have been constantly exposed to the miseries of my own brothers and sisters staying far away from me. This helpless situation is seen in the most neglected part of India i.e. the northeast of our country consisting of the seven sisters namely Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Sikkim, Nagaland, Manipur, Assam and Meghalaya.
The situation in all these countries is very hostile and people are living a life that is not worth living. Every day, they have to tolerate the atrocities with their mouths shut. I used to hear all this every day in college. But I never got so touched by any of the discussions that would make me sit and cry for them. But two days back, I noticed something so powerful that shook me entirely. The fact that a person can put her soul into a performance and take you into a different world amazed me.
A play was organized by a group of theatre artists to make others aware of the brutal conditions prevailing in Manipur. One of the members performed a solo act in which she exhibited the life in Manipur. She represented the men, the women and the children of Manipur. However, she played the part of Irom Sharmila, a revolutionary who has been observing fast for the last 11 years. This is just an attempt from her side to curb the infiltration of AFSPA i.e. the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and grant people their right to live. For this act, Sharmila was arrested and put behind bars. She was accused of trying to commit suicide. This act of Sharmila has gathered her huge public support and thus in an effort to protect themselves from the angry crowd, the police has made Sharmila forcibly stay alive. The protagonist in the play played her part so well that we found the whole of Manipur standing in front of us and asking for our help and support.
She also talked about Manorama who had dared to raise her voice against the ill treatment given to the people by the army people. But what she got in return? She was gang raped and thrown into the gutters of Manipur. Six bullets were found in her vagina. How Manorama must have tolerated all this is a question all of us should think. It’s a shame for our country that women are considered just sex objects and are used and thrown by the powerful. This inhuman act did not make the soldiers pay any price. Everyday women are raped and men are killed.
Where is their right to live, right to speech, right to freedom? Our constitution has miserably failed to protect its citizens and grant them the basic human rights. The people of Manipur tolerate this mayhem every day and every minute. Such a dreadful environment in a democratic country is a big question for our government and our politicians.
Why the north-east is always segregated from the whole of India? Why would they become a part of us if we don’t make them feel like that? We can’t accept them with our hands tied. Even our media refrains from discussing anything pertaining to them. Journalists in Manipur can’t express their anger because of the viciousness of the armed forces. But here, media can play a very powerful role in bringing change in the lives of Manipuris.
We can write blog and do a lot of online activities to spread awareness. Media can help in curbing this whole issue and antagonism against the AFSPA. But our media exercises gate keeping and always tries to hide these issues and never lets it come out in public. This is really pathetic and it contributes to the present condition of Manipur. The only event that made our media become interested in them was when the women in Manipur protested outside the army’s office naked. It was an outburst of anger towards the army’s misuse of power. It was a direct slap to the armed forces. However we don’t need people to go to such extreme levels to fight for their rights.
As citizens of this country and as species of the same group, it is our responsibility to free them from this wretchedness. I hope that after reading this article, you will do your bit of giving these people what they have been begging from so long, their freedom. I would like to end this article on a sad note that even a person like Rabindranath Tagore failed to understand the meaning of a united India. His idea of an independent India was one without the mention of the East India in our national song.