Irom Sharmila – Decade long question against Indian Democracy


If you want to know who is working for the death of Irom Sharmila, come to her trial in August and see who isn’t there. The people who won’t be there, the protests that will not be made – these non-events will make the truth about Manipur very plain.

There are no insurgents in Manipur. The police, UGs, MLAs, NGOs, CSOs, those with money… all get their money from the Center. IB agents and Assam Rifles Generals are not stupid; they all share in the gravy trough. The more hard-working buy and sell drugs or traffic in guns, munitions and people. They don’t hide their wealth; nobody prosecutes black money in India.

18 soldiers were killed the day Sharmila was sent to trial – June 04, 2015. #fiftysixinches (affectionately known as 56″ – 0 balls) wanted to act tough. No one cares about what actually happened next. It’s long forgotten. Like Sharmila’s last days at trial, it’s what is not seen that is damning.

The Times of Assam seems to believe that the Indian IB works against the people of the North East because they are evil Mayangs with a step motherly attitude. A little naive perhaps, but it’s an easy story. As an outsider it seems to me the IB, the local corrupt police, the local drug dealers, all the ruling families, whether they are UGs MLAs or NGO owners, all work together making the most of the corruption trough. It’s so easy to prove – follow the money.

Does this sound like a conspiracy theory? It is not one. I don’t believe in conspiracy theories. They are a neurotic reaction to the greater complexity of the postmodern world. There is no conspiracy to manufacture the death of Irom Sharmila — the planning is quite open.

Irom Sharmila Latest Picture

The call to end her imprisonment, and therefore her force-feeding, unconditionally is the new campaign of Amnesty International India concocted against the direct wishes of Irom Sharmila. The result is easy to predict: she will continue her fast – and that will lead, inevitably, to her death. It may be in seven days; it may be in twenty; either way the outcome of this new campaign will mean that Irom Sharmila will die.

That will be followed by the consequence promised by the rulers of Manipur: communal riots. They are upping the ante, threatening the Roman Catholic community with reprisals. (They still believe 56-0 is into that sort of thing.) You will hear now for the first time talk of Roman Catholic Naga missionary militants. Or perhaps of Christoislamic terrorism. What does that mean? It means we get to burn down the cathedral, settle some old scores and what hot-blooded Indian turns down the offer of open season on gang rapes?

(I have no idea why Indian Troops need the AFSPA to protect them from charges when gang-raping of tribal low-caste or poor women is more of a national pastime than Kabbadi or Cricket. Some yutes combine them. Violence against women is considered a husband’s right within marriage, but where in India is it de facto a crime?)

None of the powerful or influential in Manipur will come to stand beside Sharmila at her trial because none of them wants that strange woman with the nose pipe to live any longer. When she is dead, though, they can put up a statue of her, give her the title Rani and maybe add her image to a new five-rupee note.

If you want to know who is going to be behind her manufactured death, look to see who doesn’t come to support her in Delhi next month. There are those who never come to support her but who travel the world first-class and five-star making their careers out of her. It seems all you have to do to be invited to a UN junket on violence against women is to threaten her with honor killing.

Once she is dead, though, they will all return from mourning to champion her cause anew. The IB outed the methodology of these NGOs, but the names were not released by the IB. It was the NGOs themselves who outed themselves. One local 5 Star Activist had his name listed three times in a press release first as part of a group of International Activists outed as foreign spies by the Indian IB, second as a Regional Senior Activist, and finally as a key Local Activist wanted for sedition against the Republic of India. If you didn’t know whom you had to kowtow to in Manipur, you know now. He is a definite no-show for the trial in Delhi. He has been instructing the lawyers HRLN to try to have the trial quashed from the start.

Nobody wants change in Manipur or India. Anna Hazare got success in two weeks because the people of Delhi stood up and said enough is enough. The authorities have learnt their lesson now. The fuss created after the death of that woman gang-raped and sodomized in Delhi whom India promised never to forget dropped back to apathy and the fear of getting involved as quickly as it began. For Sharmila there has never been genuine support, just the gawking of the media summed up by her so-called “true supporters” crowing when they persuaded Ripley’s Believe It or Not to place her next to the man who had the 90lb leg tumor.

Irom Sharmila’s treatment by Delhi is a synecdoche for how Delhi treats the North East. As long as the problem is insurgency, the threat of the evil foreigner, the stranger, China, Pakistan or the Vatican, that’s fine; everyone relaxes. India has the second largest army in the world and is prepared to go on dawn raids to unspecified villages and kill unspecified numbers of people so effectively that no trace is left at all – of corpses, munitions or even of the village or training camp itself. And that satisfies everyone so that they can forget and move on. The North East is India’s latter-day “fluttered folk and wild, their new-caught, sullen peoples, half-devil and half-child”.

I care about Irom Sharmila. But in the eyes of India, she is just another Manipuri who will be killed by the IB, UGs, Army, Police. NGOs, Judiciary, Press and by the weight of those who do not rally around the last days of her show trial. This is India. Times have changed. The Indians who stood beside Bose, Bhagat Singh, Aurobindo, and Nehru are long dead.

There will be another riot and to show that they can, they will target Roman Catholics this time. The RSS will rejoice – but tomorrow they will burn down a Hindu Temple, the next day gang-rape Jain Nuns. Manipur is suffering from collective insanity. I no longer believe there is any point trying to urge Manipuris or North Easterners to rally around any cause for change. The best are a burnt-out people in PTSD psychosis. The Times of Assam writes to farther the cause of liberation. It’s a beautiful, futile dream. I admire dreamers.

I report the truth because it is the truth. And I return to Imphal to show these cowards and hypocrites the meaning of the word freedom, to say goodbye to Irom Sharmila, to bring presents to my family of PL HIV+ children, the most beautiful, most fully alive children I have ever met, and to renew acquaintances among my brothers the rapists, child molesters, murderers and petty thieves of Sector 7, Room 1 – the bravest, kindest and gentlest Manipuris I have ever sojourned with, all fruits of modern Manipur. These are the only reasons I return to Imphal. Manipurda Achumba leitre. But if anyone has read this far, hush now. Go back to sleep. Do not come to Sharmila’s trial on the 11th and 12th of August and on the 13th her sataygraha becomes a symbol only that this is no country, now, for followers of Gandhi-ji.

You might also like

Irom Sharmila – Decade long question against Indian Democracy

By: Desmond Coutinho Read time: 22 min