Anti-corruption protestors – Don’t comment on Irom Sharmila if you don’t know AFSPA

The following written is not for those people who have grown up watching and blind-believing Bollywood movies glorifying Indian Army. It is not for those who are not ready to believe that Indian Army is not next to God. It is not for those would think we all should be ever grateful to Indian Army because they are saving our lives all the time and we should therefore not question back their work & actions.

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It is not for people who think that shouting Stop corruption makes you hip or more dignified than who says  save human lives. It is not for those who think he/she who cries “save us from the Indian Army” must always be a non-Indian.

A few examples and thoughts?

In an article titled Akhil Gogoi and Anna Hazare, will you dare to fast with Irom Sharmila published here in April 30, 2011, I had stated about the media bias in handling the two situations,- Anna Hazare who rose to instant fame in three days and Irom Sharmila, who has been largely ignored in spite of her decade long fast. Some of the wise critics, pioneering the Anna movement wrote back very strongly as they thought it was an insult to the anti-corruption movement!

Some wrote back and claimed AFSPA is necessary and that we should be grateful to Indian Army for protecting us all the time (else terrorists of North East would have killed us all). I wondered if they even know how many states are there in North East. At best they might have seen the movie Tango Charlie which portrayed Bodos to be merciless terrorists of Manipur (instead of one of most wonderful and cultured communities of the region).

Some stated that I was trying to divide the people and that people of North East keep fighting only as Assamese, Naga, Manipuri, etc and never as Indians. My question, – consider us as Indians then and stand against AFSPA. And about fighting for our own communities, does fighting as Assamese or Manipuri does not mean fighting for a better India also, or at least a better corner of India?

One even claimed that the writer is a Congress supporter! I am still trying to figure out why supporting Irom means speaking for Congress. Is it because the Congress rulers are keeping her alive with the food pipe forced through Irom’s nose?

If you have no idea why and for what Irom Sharmila is fighting for, the following might help you open your eyes.

For those who do not know – This is what Irom Sharmila is protesting against

Irom Sharmila is protesting against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), one of the most draconian legislations that the Indian Parliament has passed. It is implemented only in the North East States of India. Under this Act, all security forces are given unrestricted and unaccounted power to carry out their operations, once an area is declared disturbed. Even a non-commissioned officer is granted the right to shoot to kill or arrest anyone without a warrant based on mere suspicion. This inhuman law which dignifies the basic human rights has been long protested by the people of the region; however the long cries and protests have never succeeded in making the centre realize the need to consider citizens of the North East states as human beings who needed same rights as fellow countrymen.

It was first applied to the North Eastern states of Assam and Manipur and was amended to extend to all the seven states in the north- eastern region of India.

A few of the brutal points about the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA):

Why AFSPA is draconian and unconstitutional

  • Section 3 of the AFSPA grants the power to declare an area disturbed to the Central Government and the Governor of the State, but does not describe the circumstances under which the authority would be justified in making such a declaration! This decision depends on the satisfaction level of the government and cannot be judicially challenged, even if the state government does not agree. In fact the fact that North Eastern states always had an ex-military general as its Governor proves the parallel colonialism style Government which the centre tried to maintain with the use of the AFSPA.
  • Under section 4, the army men are allowed to shoot to kill and the only requirement is the opinion of the army personnel! The army is also given the power to destroy property, arrest anyone and take to custody for as long as wanted. Needless to mention such powers have resulted in all the wrong results in the North East with the army accused of innumerable rapes, fake killings and tortures to thousands of innocent individuals.
  • Section 6 of the AFSPA provides the Army with absolute immunity for all atrocities committed under the AFSPA. A person wishing to file suit against a member of the armed forces for abuses must first seek the permission of the Central Government! This AFSPA suspends the Constitutional right to take legal action.

AFSPA violates all International law

The AFSPA, by its form and in its application, violates the:

  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The following sections of this declaration is violated by the AFSPA: 1 – Free and Equal Dignity and rights, 2 – Non- discrimination, 3 – Life, liberty, security of person, 5 – no torture, 7 – equality before the law, 8 – effective remedy, 9 – no arbitrary arrest, 17 – property.
  • The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (the ICCPR)
  • The Convention Against Torture, the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials
  • The UN Body of Principles for Protection of All Persons Under any form of Detention
  • UN Principles on Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra- legal and summary executions.

 Why this injustice and inhuman attitude to North-East alone

A law similar to AFSPA was once used by the British Army in Northern Ireland when they  carried out arrests under the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act or the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act. Under this law, the detainees were held for seven days without charge. However the European Court of Human Rights found this to be in violation of the Human Rights Covenant and had abolished this law.

In India, however the Delhi high court had found the AFSPA to be legal and constitutional when it was challenged. When India had presented its periodic report to the United Nations Human Rights committee in 1991, Members of the UN challenged the validity of the AFSPA, questioning how the AFSPA could be deemed constitutional under Indian law. The Attorney General of India is said to have only argued that the AFSPA is necessary to prevent the secession of the North Eastern states. This had made the stand of the Indian Government quite clear that it is not exactly concerned about safeguarding lives and interests of the people of this region but only to rule and exploit it.

Indian has recent rise in armed conflicts in all Maoist affected zones, where the magnitude of terror is found to be more than what it is in North East. However, Indian Government has neither deployed the army (Stating that Maoists are the citizens of India and Army should not fight their own citizens) nor declared the areas as disturbed to enact the AFSPA into those areas.

Anti-corruption crusaders – will you also stand for our (human) rights and feel the pain of North East

In a popular attempt, Team Anna, in their recent Media-glorified-fast has called upon and invited the Iron Lady of Manipur, Irom Sharmila to join them in their fast. Probably they forgot that Irom is still in state custody and that she cannot come without being released or granted bail.

None of their supporters would have ever heard about the incident which had led Irom Sharmila to begin her decade long fast to repel the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. The incident in which a 62-year old woman, Leisangbam Ibetomi, 18-year old Sinam Chandramani and 8 others who were killed on 2nd November, 2002 by Indian Armed forces when they were waiting at a bus stop. Neither the public, nor the Indian State Machine (forget about the Indian Army) ever brought justice to the case.

Irom Sharmila continues her hunger strike for more than 10 years as Indian Army Officers, our savior and defenders wine and dine every day in their camps, probably mocking the attempts of a mere North Eastern woman to fight against the great Indian Army all by herself.

Team Anna and the opposition is of the opinion that this is like an emergency like situation in India. When Ramdev Baba’s Ramlila incident happened (lathicharge by police), it was compared to brutal Jallianwala bagh incident! In another writer Pranjit Sarmah’s words “The north easterns are living in an emergency like situation for last two decades, democracy has been killed here many times, and Jallianwala Bagh of British rule has happened countless times. Will the voice and pain of Irom Sharmila reach to those who have compared the incident of Ramlila Maidan with Jallianwala Bagh of British rule! Will they feel the pain of the people of this region who have become accustomed to seeing many Jallianwala Baghs every year”.

About Priyankan Goswami

Priyankan Goswami Priyankan Goswami is the Editor of Times of Assam's Political Analysis section. He is also founder member and member of the Executive board of Times of Assam. By Academic Priyankan Goswami is MBA & Mechanical Engineer.

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Disclaimer: Views and statement made in the article are Author’s personal. TIMES OF ASSAM disclaim any legal or other liability for the above.

27 Responses to "Anti-corruption protestors – Don’t comment on Irom Sharmila if you don’t know AFSPA"

  1. Satish Rajkumar  August 23, 2011 at 02:35 PM

    Your contribution toward manipur and the north-eastern state by this article is very great. This will let the people know why we condemn to India government and that’s for justice and equality that govt. don’t have ‘the justice for AFSPA and the equality of Sharmila and Anna.’ Thanks for your valuable article. Keep on posting.

    Reply
  2. Deepak Joshi  August 23, 2011 at 05:03 PM

    those who are commenting like you have mentioned are showing their mental bankruptcy. Those were good articles . Please keep writing on this issue . At least some one dares to write for Eche. Thank You.

    Reply
  3. Raj Kumar Karnajit Singh  August 23, 2011 at 05:41 PM

    Well written, Priyankan Goswami. Hats off to U. This Universe needs personality like you………. Keep it up.

    Reply
  4. panjit  August 23, 2011 at 06:25 PM

    I totally agree with the points and the article published by Priyankan Goswami | Date- August 23, 2011.Yes if the only people of India considers North-East as the part of Indian Country.With no concerns to the people of these areas and always neglected in all aspects and fields.The government may claim its name with Lakhs of promises to these areas but no promises kept after they are elected to the powers.Being a democratic country the NORTH-EAST is not democratic.Every seconds the people here longs and figths for the freedom which is unheard to the rest world.We pray let the other part of the India considers peoples of N-E STATES as Indian brothers and sisters not foreigners or any other Alliens .

    Reply
  5. shubhayan mukhopadhyay  August 23, 2011 at 08:12 PM

    what a barbaric act on women . Govt is looting money and assaulting manipuri women using indiaa army. i think this act should be banned. it extremey inhumane.

    Reply
  6. Kaustav Bhagawati  August 23, 2011 at 10:15 PM

    whenever some basic but critical human rights has been violated,whatever be the bigger cause..injustice has been done to the human society… army it is …both fronts..there are just perspectives..and from NE’s perspective..wrong has been done

    Reply
  7. dangmei  August 23, 2011 at 10:47 PM

    Mr. Goswami i really appreciate your writings, specially for the guts to write such a piece at this juncture, hoping to see more from you sir. yes mainland Indian knows very little about the grim truth and situation prevailing in this part of the country. I am not undermining the importants of the movement of anna hazare, yes no doubt its in everyone’s interest including me that corruption should to be eradicated. But the government and other machineries indifferent and hostile treatment to this part of north eastern states is a serious metter of negligence, it seems like the constitution of india is different for north eastern states.

    Reply
  8. Ronika  August 23, 2011 at 11:18 PM

    Great Article Priyankan and thank u for writing about this. We felt so ignored by our so called fellow Indians but you make us realize there is little hope for this tiny state which is aloof from the rest of India. I hope more people like you will come up and stand with us in this fight.

    Reply
  9. WILSON MOIRANGTHEM  August 23, 2011 at 11:54 PM

    thank u priyankan ji for ur valuable words.mainland peoples r not worried about our lifes . the huge people oh india didn’t support us in our cruciual times. they don’t know wat r the impacts of this acts on us.. sharmila’s fasting is not related to corruptions but to human life.we support sharmila.

    REMOVE AFSPA BEFORE ANY OTHER.THIS WILL BE THE MAIN PRIORITY

    PRIYANKAN JI ,U HAVE DONE IT

    Reply
  10. Moirangthem Reagan Singh  August 24, 2011 at 12:09 PM

    astounding,eye-opening write-up….
    clearly highlight the incomparable difference in the struggles of Irom Sharmila and Anna Hazare ….
    Also demonstrate the exaggerated praise and support to Anna and the outright marginalisation of the praiseworthy woman…
    Hope it will make the narrow-minded people of the so called mainland India realize their perceived views on Ms Sharmila and Anna…..

    Reply
  11. Misbah  August 24, 2011 at 12:59 PM

    Thanks a lot Prinyankan,
    you really have shown other bitter side of the coin. we all stuck towards the Anna Hazare & thoughts this is the only genuine challenge in front of us. but we forgot to look there are far greater challenged ahead but we are unable to concentrate. dear its all due the evil act of our media, who use to focus on the richer part of our country indeed to share all geographical problem.
    at the earliest we need to have a better media, that can highlight problems as per their important for the society.
    like wise media always highlights cricket series lost or win, sachin tendulkar centuries, Amitabh personal life, gandhi family personal life, etc..
    they never focussed on the fact that why we are flowing a huge some of money towards kashmir for no. of yeras and still we do not have any concrete solution, media is not going to expose what happen to karkare murder case, why step behavior within the geographical boundary, why Devil Narender Modi still hold his chief minister’s chair after running over hundrerds of muslims life, so its all bullshite media and its maker.

    Reply
  12. Samson Waikhom  August 24, 2011 at 03:44 PM

    Thank you Priyankan Goswami Ji, your contribution to the NE Region is so valuable and we are really touched by your article. Lets stand together against AFSPA.

    Reply
  13. Jimmy  August 24, 2011 at 09:40 PM

    If I have to support a cause, I will support Sharmila and Manipur’s cause, but IAC has facilitated people to support the cause.

    Reply
  14. nishant sinha  August 24, 2011 at 11:18 PM

    have read so much about it,still cant help taking a glance at any article which is on the AFSPA issue.i wish we could do more than just write or talk about it ,or hold a solidarity fast on Human rights day.
    there isn’t anyone strong enough amongst us who can take a bold step as the IRON lady ,or are we also apathetic to the situation ,woken up once in a while by an article like yours or the one by Kalpana Sharma. Lets stay awake,forever.

    Reply
  15. sham  August 25, 2011 at 05:00 AM

    Thanks to Priyankan, its show quality of Journalism, I don’t understand why MEDIA doesn’t show these wrong doings of the Armed forces, I feel sorry for the people of North East, but never give up keep fighting till you get your basics rights as citizens of India. I am sure you will get support from all over the country soon.

    Reply
  16. Biswajit singha  August 25, 2011 at 08:32 AM

    Priyankan hats off to u…….

    Reply
  17. vikram kamaljith  August 25, 2011 at 04:50 PM

    Good article

    Reply
  18. rajesh sanasam  August 25, 2011 at 10:58 PM

    i can not stop my eyes to fill with tears when i was reading this article. my soul was not there at the place where i was. it was beside THE GREAT-SHARMILA CHANU who is suffering for human rights(especially in north east india). you have given the right answer to those who have never come across “the brutal act”(AFSPA). hail-priyankan, hail- north-east states

    Reply
  19. alok goel  August 26, 2011 at 10:57 AM

    WELL DONE PRIYANKAN! GREAT ARTICLE. KEEP WRITING ON THIS ISSUE………..

    Reply
  20. sankar  August 26, 2011 at 11:53 AM

    Good work. I am with you. Can it not presented before human rights commission? To challenge, from where (exactly which department) in the central government permission is needed ? Please provide the details or atleast email me at sksankararaman at gmail dot com

    Reply
  21. L NARENDRA  August 26, 2011 at 01:10 PM

    HATS OFF TO U FOR COURAGEOUS EXPOSURE OF DOUBLE STANDARDS ADOPTED BY PEOPLE IN POWER IN THE ARTICLE.
    NARENDRA

    Reply
  22. Kishor  August 26, 2011 at 05:12 PM

    You are speaking for all of us……people of NE. We always feel that we are ignored by mainstream Indian Media and also by politicians….

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  23. Narayan  August 26, 2011 at 05:12 PM

    Dear Friend,

    I have been reading articles related to this. Can you do one thing more than just writing. Can you mobilize the neighbours and start another fast? There is no point in decrying Ann has not done eny thing for this cause. The community in the immediate neighbourhood should be mobilized as soon as possible and a event should be organized. Follow Gandhian principles of non violence. This seems to be still live as we found in the Anna movement. Ask you state government to repeal the status of disturbed area in your region. If there are other elements which are causing disturbance that lead to the army being deployed, cooperate as much as possible to bring these elements to book. I am physically thousands of miles away. I keep marking such postings on Sharmila’s plight. There must be more action on the ground at your local government office. Not that this can not be considered a all India issue. There must eb a event some where. If it does not originate in your state, where will it have an echo?

    Reply
  24. Richard luwang  August 29, 2011 at 06:19 AM

    The act kept by Government of India in northeastern states make us to think that we are not Indian..And make us feel that why to observe 15 august as Independence day & 26 january as republic day…It is the step mother that makes the child feel orphan when she pick the step siblings….

    Reply
  25. Debashree alias Sumi B Raja  August 29, 2011 at 07:21 PM

    Thanks for your article. I would like to underline few points on the topic. First, you have successfully explained all the ill effects of AFSPA but silent on the actual ground situation which has forced to impose AFSPA. Secondly, If we feel that AFSPA has made our life miserable, I find a large number of peace loving people in lower ASSAM who feels they can’t imagine to live without army’s presence at this stage. Thirdly, Do you feel that our armed forces enjoys luxurious holidays in doing duties round the clock with hardly any rest, that too wearing 25-30 kg bullet proof jackets and helmets, because they have AFSPA in their hand?

    Anna Hazare comes out with truth and for right cause and he has won. In the same way, everybody needs to come out with truth and with right cause. If you are impartial and looks the situation in a neutral way, you will definitely get enormous public support which will take you to victory.

    Sorting out terrorism / militancy problem is the only way which can bring peace and prosperity in NE and it strictly depends on journalists like you. Nobody can imagine AFSPA in a developed peaceful NE or any part of the country. There is something wrong in NE as we are facing violence in NE for the last four decades but have failed to sort out a single problem or have hardly got support to the violence way from the majority of the people. Now it is the time to hill the damages that we have done to our society by quitting the violence path and looking to the problems in a broad realistic view.

    Note: Please publish the view of the readers in a non partial way. We must admit that there is something wrong in the ground situation and must put our effort to sort out those. Otherwise simply writing topic from one angle, can’t give us solution. “Aisa Mein Manta Hoon”

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  26. hriday  September 10, 2011 at 03:10 AM

    A big shame fr all f us Indians dat we hvnt been able to stand as a team n fite against dis act. We hv visualisd a lot f fake army killings. We respect d Indian army… bt d power to dis extnt dat hs bn bestowd on dem… anyone can misuse it. Itz time we all learn to stand up n fite fr d abolishmnt f dis act

    Reply
  27. Harry  October 13, 2011 at 07:02 PM

    Let Manipur state government contain Terrorism and repeal the status of “Disturbed Area” in their region, AFSPA will automatically cease to exist….

    Reply

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