Iron Irom’s long protest penned #AFPSA #Vaw #Womenrights


DNA Correspondent l @DNA

abhaydeol

( pic courtesy- Nitesh Mohanty at the kitab khana event)

A book on Irom Sharmila reiterates the cause she is fighting for.

“Irom’s story has been written in a first-person account and in a non-intellectual way so that people can easily understand and get involved in her cause,” said writer and filmmaker Minnie Vaid.

The book by Vaid, Iron Irom: Two journeys, was released at Kitab Khana on Friday.

“The book is an introduction to Manipur and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and the army atrocities because of it. No amount of books written on her are enough. People need to think about her and engage with her issues. The movement has to be to repeal AFSPA,” Vaid said.

Irom, who hails from the strife-torn state of Manipur, has been on a hunger strike for the last 12 years and has urged the government to repeal the draconian law AFSPA after she saw the body of her best friend raped by the members of the Assam Rifles, a unit of the Indian Army at an army camp in Imphal.

Irom, a poet, is also the world’s longest hunger striker.

The Root, which had organised the event, had displayed 60 postcards from India and abroad for Irom. “These were to send her a message that she is not forgotten in a land of busy people,” said Nitesh Mohantay of The Root.

The book was released by actor Abhay Deol.

Democracies Don’t Strip Their Women, India Does #Indiashame #womensday


| by Avinash Pandey*

 
( March 8, 2013, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka Guardian) The decision of going naked in protest to the oppression committed on them by POSCO and its supporters must not had come easily to the women of Govindpur village of Jagatsingpur district in Odisha. It cannot come easily to women of anywhere in country, however, much distressed they are. It is a country, after all, that still abides by essentially feudal codes of honour hinged, primarily, on their bodies and punishing those who stray with extreme, and extrajudicial, measures like honour killing with the law enforces looking away.
But then, this is exactly what the women of this POSCO-infested village (to borrow from the mainstream media that refers to all such areas as ‘infested’ by this or that dissenting group) have been forced into. The desperation betraying the decision is unmistakable. It can startle even those who deal with such stories of despair day in and day out. Last time one had seen such a protest taking place was in Manipur in July 2004. The situation, however, was a little different in that case. Manipur has always been a ‘disturbed’ area for the Indian state and condemned, therefore, to be reined in by brute force. Brute force in military parlance, in turn, has always included sexual assault as a weapon of shaming and controlling the enemy.
Elderly women of Manipur were aghast at that and decided for going that protest in sheer desperation. They were a people who had completely lost their faith in the nation that claimed to be their own but acted as an occupying force. It did never treat them, or their menfolk, as its own. Its security forces assaulted the men and raped the women at will and the state legitimised such dreadful practices by allowing the Assam Rifles deployed in Manipur to provide condoms as an integral part of the travel kit, to be used while on patrol duty. Having had enough of this, Manipuri women went to the headquarters of the Assam Rifles, disrobed and flung a banner reading “INDIAN ARMY RAPE US”.
Odisha is thousands of kilometers away from Manipur. It is not a ‘disturbed’ area with the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, a colonial relic very dear to Indian state, in force. Its women are not that alien to Indian state as Manipuri women are to it, despite all its claims on the contrary. Yet, the desperation and the progressive loss of any faith of the citizenry in the state are same. This is what explains the disarmingly simple and yet dangerous message that seeps out of the statement issued by the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS). “Left with no other option, women from the village have decided to get naked before the Policemen tomorrow” is all that it says. The pain and agony it would take to first decide for holding such a protest and then announcing it to the public is something lost on the state and the moral guardians it deploys to keep the pretension of being a democracy on.
     The message that the state is not ready to listen to peaceful voices of dissent is loud and clear. It has abandoned the citizenry for the reasons best known to it and had decided to side with the private interests even at the expense of rule of law. It has shifted the boundaries and pushed the citizens to the extremes. It is no more a struggle for justice that had become a distant dream, but a struggle for survival that starts with being heard and noticed.
The women have reached the decision because the state has abandoned them for POSCO, the multinational company that has been violating all their rights with impunity. They have reached the decision after getting many of their near and dear ones killed by the hired goons of the company. They have reached the decision for the state government sending in an armed-to-teeth police force for cracking down on the peaceful protesters and forcibly acquire the lands even when the environmental clearance that is mandatory for such projects stand cancelled by the statutory authorities.
The immediate provocation comes from the stubborn refusal of the police to lodge a formal First Information Report (FIR), a constitutional right of the people, against the perpetrators of a bomb attack on the nonviolent protesters that killed several of them. Despite unambiguous indications that the attack was carried out by the hired goons of POSCO, the police have obstinately maintained that the deceased were involved in bomb-making and perished when it exploded prematurely, all this without even a pretense of investigation.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that the anti-POSCO movement has faced such violence or police apathy. On one hand, it has been a victim of ruthlessly violent attacks on its activists purportedly carried out at the behest of POSCO and on the other a systematic victimisation by the state by filing fabricated cases against them as exposed by a fact finding report titled “Captive Democracy”.
The message that the state is not ready to listen to peaceful voices of dissent is loud and clear. It has abandoned the citizenry for the reasons best known to it and had decided to side with the private interests even at the expense of rule of law. It has shifted the boundaries and pushed the citizens to the extremes. It is no more a struggle for justice that had become a distant dream, but a struggle for survival that starts with being heard and noticed. It is a struggle for asserting one’s existence against those who want to erase the poor and the downtrodden from nation’s conscience. It is, therefore, a struggle for reclaiming the citizenship in a democracy that is going truant.
The signs are not good for such struggles. The wretchedness hitherto reserved for those living on the peripheries of the nation has been slowly, but consistently, moving inwards. The country has already stripped thousands of its women naked underlining what Ms. Arundhati Roy calls a ‘rape culture’. It has looked away when the non-state actors, so to say, have done the same with other set of victims hounded along the fault lines of caste, kinship and religion. It had yet not reached a stage where its women have to get naked in front of the police, supposed to be law enforcers, unlike its atrocious armed forces for their legitimate rights. It would better not let that happen.

 

#IromSharmila appears before court, refuses to plead guilty #AFPSA #Suicide #Vaw


 

Dailybhaskar.com | Mar 04, 2013

 

New DelhiManipur‘s ‘iron lady’, Irom Sharmila, appeared in city’s Patiala Court on Monday in an attempt to suicide case. The Patiala House court framed charges against the social activist for attempting to commit suicide in 2006 when she sat on a fast at Jantar Mantar in the national capital. She has been on a fast-unto-death stir against the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in Manipur since past 12 years.
Urging the court to treat her case as special her lawyer said that since she has already been in custody for six years, she should be let off because under Section 309 the period of imprisonment is only one year. She was charged under Section 309 six years ago, when she brought her agitation against AFSPA in Manipur to Delhi. She had then continued her fast and refused to take medical intervention. Her condition deteriorated that forced Delhi Police to file attempt to suicide charges against her and force-fed at the AIIMS , before she was allowed to go back to Imphal.
Irom Sharmila launched her fast-unto-death in 2000 after 10 civilians were killed by Assam Rifles personnel at Malom near Imphal airport.

 

 

Social activist Irom Sharmila to appear in Delhi court today #AFSPA #Vaw


PTI | Mar 04, 2013,
  • PrintComment

New Delhi: Irom Sharmila, who has been on fast for about 12 years demanding repeal of controversial AFSPA and was flown in to New Delhi from Manipur to appear in a court case of attempted suicide,  said the voices of protest cannot be ignored for long.

Charged with Section 309 (attempt to commit suicide) of IPC for fasting at Jantar Mantar in Delhi, the 40-year-old has to appear before the court on Monday.

“I am not committing suicide. This is my way of protest. I am protesting by non-violent means,” she said after being brought to the capital this evening.

She said she was confident that government will listen to her and concede to her demand to revoke Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). “If we keep fighting, the law will be repealed. Our voices will be heard.

“…Why is the government afraid of army? Why is it appeasing the army? Why can’t it take a decision for the good of the people,” she said.

Sharmila had launched her fast unto death in 2000 after 10 civilians were killed by Assam Rifles personnel at Malom area near Imphal airport.

She is now in judicial custody and is being fed through her nose.

#India – When a rape is not a rape #sexualviolence #Vaw #AFSPA


Freny Manecksha | February 16, 2013, Times Crest

 

In 2004 an iconic image, hailed as a feminist statement, depicted a dozen Manipuri women who had stripped in front of the headquarters of Assam Rifles, holding banners saying “Indian army rape us.” But as Chitra Ahanthem, editor of Imphal Free Press explains, “These women actually belong to a very patriarchal society. What drove them to such extreme forms of protest? They told me it was an expression of the impotent rage they felt at the way security troops could commit sexual crimes with such impunity.”

The protest occurred after the body of 34-year-old Manorama Thingjam was found near Imphal on July 11, 2004. Manorama was earlier picked up from her home by 17 Assam Rifles on suspicion of being a militant. “The protesting women told me no woman could remain unmoved after seeing what the troops had done to Manorama. Her body bore appalling wounds _ scratch marks, deep gashes on her thighs and her genitals peppered with gunshot wounds,” says Ahanthem.

More than eight years later Manorama and women of Manipur are still denied justice. The army, in 2011, stalled the Manipur government’s probe and call for action by challenging the Guwahati High court decision in the Supreme Court through a Special Leave Petition saying no sanction had been given to the Manipur government to carry out a probe. Manipur comes under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and Sections 6 provides that the state government cannot prosecute law enforcement agencies without sanctions from the federal Home Ministry.

Such high-profile cases of impunity and “the belief that AFSPA because of its overarching powers to security troops virtually provides legal sanction to rape and sexual assault” led the People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) to make suggestions to the Verma Commission to bring security troops under the criminal justice system. The commission did so but the recent ordinance on sexual violence is totally silent on this issue. (Ironically in 1997, a bench headed by Justice Verma had upheld the constitutionality of AFSPA).

PUDR observes how powers of search and seizure under AFSPA work as “permissions to enter households and harass, protest and rape women with impunity.”

A most heinous example of such a “permission” is the Kunan-Poshpura mass rapes of 1991 in Kashmir. Men were made to assemble in the fields at night whilst some 23 women of the village, aged between 13-80 years, said they were raped by troops of the Fourth Rajputana Rifles between the night of February 23-24. No police investigations were carried out. A Press Council of India committee headed by B G Verghese, claimed the complaints were fabricated. But in October 2011, the State Human Rights Commission, (SHRC) acknowledging the sexual assaults asked the state to start a fresh probe.

The army which resists all attempts to lift AFSPA, says it has its own justice delivery systems and there is a strong and vigilant court martial process. But as legal activist Vrinda Grover observes, “Whilst they do deliver some sentences it is not commensurate with justice. Also there is no transparency since one has no access to court martial proceedings and no information is shared either with the public or even the victims.” In several cases Right to Information applications are refused under exemptions.

Increasingly, rights activists are now arguing that it is not merely draconian legislation but militarisation and the guise of a security-centric approach that creates “institutional impunity at political, judicial and moral levels.”  A report Alleged Perpetrators: Stories of Impunity in Jammu & Kashmir by the International People’s Tribunal for human Rights and Justice in Indian Administered Kashmir and Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons states that in the “name of countering militant violence the Indian state authorises armed forces to carry out operations with or without adherence to law. Significantly in a majority of cases crimes are not noted or investigated at all.”

A team member explains that in Jammu and Kashmir the very act of filing an FIR against the forces becomes a huge struggle.

One of the victims of Kunan-Poshpora  in her testimony to another report to the Independent People’s Tribunal on Human Rights Violations in Kashmir speaks of the daunting challenge in  filing FIRS because of fear and reprisal by concerned troops. She adds that although an FIR was lodged (RI/1387/83) at Trehgam police station on March 2, 1991 nothing came of it.

Alleged Perpetrators documents the lengthy and almost futile efforts of a particular case of torture and sexual assault in Sipan, Anantnag district. In response to an RTI query the Jammu & Kashmir government in 2009 said sanction for prosecution had been sought from the ministry of defence in 2006 but was still awaited. The ministry of defence claimed sanction had not been received. What is also significant is that it took 12 years for the J&K police to investigate and process the case for prosecution.

An even more alarming feature is that the culture of impunity has permeated to the police who do not come under AFSPA.  One notable case in Alleged Perpetrators pertains to rape and torture of  a 16-year-old girl from Zachaldara,Kupwara district. She says she was picked up from school and taken to a police station for interrogation. Lady constables tortured her and later DSP Altaf Ahmad Khan kicked her in the abdomen and then raped her. So horrific were the injuries that she was in hospital for 50 days. Her ruptured uterus was removed. Although she filed an application no FIR was registered. She then approached the SHRC who have recommended an inquiry three years after receiving the complaint. No investigations appear to have taken place.  Meanwhile the police officer has been promoted and awarded the President’s Police award for gallantry.

Significantly this trend of rewarding policemen who have charges of sexual violence against them have echoes in Chhatisgarh, where there is militarisation but no AFSPA. SRP Kalluri who was awarded a gallantry medal this January has been named by Ledhabai, the wife of a slain Maoist, as an accused for custodial rape and gangrape in a case filed in the Chhatisgarh High Court.

Last year there was outrage over adivasi school teacher Soni Sori’s letter to her lawyer stating that she was sexually assaulted and tortured by police officer Ankit Garg whilst in jail. Garg was given a gallantry award despite the complaints and Sori emerged as a global rallying figure for her vehement stand against atrocities perpetrated on adivasi women.  Sori who has been jailed by Dantewada police on various counts won a crucial victory this week as she was acquitted for being a key accused in an incident of opening firing and burning Essar vehicles.

Commenting on this trend of rewarding tainted police officers Vrinda Grover says that by such rewards the state is assuring them that they will be safeguarded. It is telling women, she says, that their bodies are fodder for interests of national security.

#India-Towards a Decisive Victory in the Historic Battle for Women’s Rights


ML Update Editorial
The 23-year-old Delhi gang-rape victim finally succumbed to her injuries on 29 December morning after battling on bravely for 13 days. The unknown young woman will go down in history as one of India’s most memorable martyrs for the cause of justice and freedom for India’s women – freedom without the fear of violence and fetters of patriarchal domination.
If the government had thought that by transferring the 23-year-old victim of gang-rape to Singapore it would succeed in defusing the people’s anger and diluting their action and resolve, it could not have been more mistaken. The news of the courageous fighter finally succumbing to her injuries in a Singapore hospital triggered a renewed countrywide wave of collective anger and mass mourning.
The government that betrayed shameful insensitivity to the brutal incident and the agitation that erupted in its wake is now desperate to score political points. Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, who never showed the courage and sensitivity to reach out to the protesters, were at the airport to receive the victim’s body. The funeral was held in the shadow of high level state security away from the reach of the public. And the Delhi government has now come out with the announcement of a compensation of Rs 15 lakh and a job for a family member of the victim.
But the scar inflicted by the brutal gang-rape can surely not be healed with token gestures or pious platitudes. Rape is the most violent and sordid expression of a deep-seated prejudice and structural discrimination against women that defines mainstream society and culture in India today. That a Congress MP, who also happens to be the son of the incumbent President of India, could make such a vicious comment about women participating in the ongoing anti-rape agitation and then get away with an empty apology with the party refusing to take any action against him, comes as a shocking pointer to the misogynist mindset of the ruling elite. And the Indian state, the judiciary included, has little will to combat this mindset – on the contrary, more often than not, it behaves as a custodian of this mindset. No wonder then that India has such a high incidence of custodial rapes.
It should be remembered that the two key milestones of the anti-rape agitation in the last three decades were both related to custodial rape. The well-known Mathura rape case which galvanised women’s organisations in the first frontal battle on the issue of rape was a shocking instance of a custodial rape condoned by the apex court. In fact it was the acquittal of the accused constables by the Supreme Court overturning the High Court verdict that triggered the first powerful wave of anti-rape protests in the country in 1979 and led to some stringent provisions in the anti-rape law by 1983.
The second powerful wave came in July 2004 in the wake of the rape and killing of Thangjam Manorama by the Assam Rifles regiment of the Indian Army. The women of Manipur drew the attention of the whole world with their bold protest, and this, together with the historic hunger strike of Irom Sharmila Chanu, has placed the call for the repeal of the draconian AFSPA firmly on the agenda of the democratic movement of the country. Indeed, the democratic movement has been increasingly aware of the fact that state and state-sponsored violence, from Kashmir to Gujarat to Chhattisgarh and beyond, has unfailingly been marked by the targeting of women for horrific sexual violence.
The ongoing agitation which has already galvanised the people on such an encouragingly big scale marks the third major milestone in the epic battle against violence against women in India. It is important to grasp and stress the linkages of the current phase with the previous phases in the history of the women’s movement because the government is bent upon reducing it to a passing event to be buried under the bureaucratic framework of investigative committees and token legislative changes. Changes in rape laws and other laws dealing with women’s rights, and more importantly with the mechanism of implementation and the justice delivery system, are of urgent importance and the government must be forced to adopt an inclusive and transparent democratic process in proper consultation with women’s organisations to bring about much-needed and much-awaited changes in this direction. The issue of change in rape laws can certainly not be left at the mercy of a Parliament which has been busy holding back for the last two decades a legislation for one-third reservation for women in legislative bodies.
But the impetus generated by the December upsurge in Delhi and across the country cannot and must not be allowed to be lost in a battle exclusively concerned with legal provisions for justice to rape victims. For the first time in modern India, the issue of patriarchal violence against women has occupied the centre stage of the democratic movement with great force. In 2013, we must carry forward this great momentum towards a decisive defeat of all the patriarchal ideas and forces which fetter women’s freedom and violates their dignity and democratic rights. Victory to the power of the protesting people that has begun to make its presence felt on the streets of India!

#India-Woman jumps from speeding train to escape molesters #Vaw


By PTI – PATNA

03rd January 2013 09:36 PM

A woman jumped from a speeding express train suffering injuries on her head and legs to escape from molesters who were identified as army jawans near Ara junction in Bihar’s Bhojpur district today, officials said.

Bhojpur District Magistrate Pratima S Verma told PTI that the woman from Darjeeling in West Bengal jumped out of the 14055 UP Dibrugarh-Delhi Brahmaputra Express at Jagjivan Halt to escape from the clutches of the molesters.

The woman in her thirties suffered injuries on the head and legs and was admitted to the Sadar Hospital at Ara, the district headquarters of Bhojpur, around 50 km from Patna.

One of the molesters, identified as army jawan Ramesh Kumar hailing from Himachal Pradesh, was caught by an Assam Rifles man A D Upadhyay from the toilet where he was hiding, police sources said.

He was handed over to the Railway Protection Force at Buxar, the sources said.

Inspector General of Police, Rail, Vinay Kumar said in Patna that another army jawan was involved in molesting the woman on the train. The second jawan escaped to another bogey of the train taking advantage of chaos, he said.

The victim travelling in the B-1 coach did not have a confirmed ticket and was sitting on the TT’s berth, the IG said.

When the train reached Mirzapur station in Uttar Pradesh, the TT and other passengers were questioned about the incident, the IG added. In the preliminary inquiry it was established that the victim’s husband was a tailor at Darjeeling, Kumar said.

He said Patna Rail Superintendent of Police Suresh Chaudhary was seeking more information from the victim at the hospital.

Two FIRs have been lodged, one each at Ara and Buxar, at the GRP police station, police sources said. The DM said the injured girl was carried to Ara junction on a maintenance trolley by rail employees. The DM and Superintendent of Police of Bhojpur M R Naik visited the girl at the hospital.

 

IMMEDIATE RELEASE- Statement condemning sexual violecne and opposing #deathpenalty


STATEMENT BY WOMEN’S AND PROGRESSIVE GROUPS AND INDIVIDUALS CONDEMNING

SEXUAL VIOLENCE

AND

OPPOSING DEATH PENALTY

On 16 December, 2012, a 23-year old woman and her friend hailed a bus at a crossing in South Delhi. In the bus, they were both brutally attacked by a group of men who claimed to be out on a ‘joy-ride’. The woman was gang raped and the man beaten up; after several hours, they were both stripped and dumped on the road. While the young woman is still in hospital, bravely battling for her life, her friend has been discharged and is helping identify the men responsible for the heinous crime.

We, the undersigned, women’s, students’ and progressive groups and concerned citizens from around the country, are outraged at this incident and, in very strong terms, condemn her gang rape and the physical and sexual assault.

As our protests spill over to the streets all across the country, our demands for justice are strengthened by knowing that there are countless others who share this anger. We assert that rape and other forms of sexual violence are not just a women’s issue, but a political one that should concern every citizen. We strongly demand that justice is done in this and all other cases and the perpetrators are punished.

This incident is not an isolated one; sexual assault occurs with frightening regularity in this country. Adivasi and dalit women and those working in the unorganised sector, women with disabilities, hijras, kothis, trans people and sex workers are especially targeted with impunity – it is well known that the complaints of sexual assault they file are simply disregarded. We urge that the wheels of justice turn not only to incidents such as the Delhi bus case, but to the epidemic of sexual violence that threatens all of us. We need to evolve punishments that act as true deterrents to the very large number of men who commit these crimes. Our stance is not anti-punishment but against the State executing the death penalty. The fact that cases of rape have a conviction rate of as low as 26% shows that perpetrators of sexual violence enjoy a high degree of impunity, including being freed of charges.

Silent witnesses to everyday forms of sexual assault such as leering, groping, passing comments, stalking and whistling are equally responsible for rape being embedded in our culture and hence being so prevalent today. We, therefore, also condemn the culture of silence and tolerance for sexual assault and the culture of valorising this kind of violence.

We also reject voices that are ready to imprison and control women and girls under the garb of ‘safety’, instead of ensuring their freedom as equal participants in society and their right to a life free of perpetual threats of sexual assault, both inside and outside their homes.

 

In cases (like this) which have lead to a huge public outcry all across the country, and where the perpetrators have been caught, we hope that justice will be speedily served and they will be convicted for the ghastly acts that they have committed. However, our vision of this justice does not include death penalty, which is neither a deterrent nor an effective or ethical response to these acts of sexual violence. We are opposed to it for the following reasons:

1.    We recognise that every human being has a right to life. Our rage cannot give way to what are, in no uncertain terms, new cycles of violence. We refuse to deem ‘legitimate’ any act of violence that would give the State the right to take life in our names. Justice meted by the State cannot bypass complex socio-political questions of violence against women by punishing rapists by death. Death penalty is often used to distract attention away from the real issue – it changes nothing but becomes a tool in the hands of the State to further exert its power over its citizens. A huge set of changes are required in the system to end the widespread and daily culture of rape.

2.    There is no evidence to suggest that the death penalty acts as a deterrent to rape. Available data shows that there is a low rate of conviction in rape cases and a strong possibility that the death penalty would lower this conviction rate even further as it is awarded only under the ‘rarest of rare’ circumstances. The most important factor that can act as a deterrent is the certainty of punishment, rather than the severity of its form.

3.    As seen in countries like the US, men from minority communities make up a disproportionate number of death row inmates. In the context of India, a review of crimes that warrant capital punishment reveals the discriminatory way in which such laws are selectively and arbitrarily applied to disadvantaged communities, religious and ethnic minorities. This is a real and major concern, as the possibility of differential consequences for the same crime is injustice in itself.

4.    The logic of awarding death penalty to rapists is based on the belief that rape is a fate worse than death. Patriarchal notions of ‘honour’ lead us to believe that rape is the worst thing that can happen to a woman. There is a need to strongly challenge this stereotype of the ‘destroyed’ woman who loses her honour and who has no place in society after she’s been sexually assaulted. We believe that rape is tool of patriarchy, an act of violence, and has nothing to do with morality, character or behaviour.

5.    An overwhelming number of women are sexually assaulted by people known to them, and often include near or distant family, friends and partners. Who will be able to face the psychological and social trauma of having reported against their own relatives? Would marital rape (currently not recognised by law), even conceptually, ever be looked at through the same retributive prism?

6.    The State often reserves for itself the ‘right to kill’ — through the armed forces, the paramilitary and the police. We cannot forget the torture, rape and murder of ThangjamManoramaby the Assam Rifles in Manipur in 2004 or the abduction, gang rape and murder of Neelofar and Aasiya of Shopian (Kashmir) in 2009.Giving more powers to the State, whether arming the police and giving them the right to shoot at sight or awarding capital punishment, is not a viable solution to lessen the incidence of crime.
Furthermore, with death penalty at stake, the ‘guardians of the law’ will make sure that no complaints against them get registered and they will go to any length to make sure that justice does not see the light of day. The ordeal of Soni Sori, who had been tortured in police custody last year, still continues her fight from inside aprison in Chattisgarh, in spite of widespread publicity around her torture.

7.    As we know, in cases of sexual assault where the perpetrator is in a position of power (such as in cases of custodial rapeor caste and religionviolence), conviction is notoriously difficult. The death penalty, for reasons that have already been mentioned, would make conviction next to impossible.

We, the undersigned, demand the following:

  • Greater dignity, equality, autonomy and rights for women and girls from a society that should stop questioning and policing their actions at every step.
  • Immediate relief in terms of legal, medical, financial and psychological assistance and long-term rehabilitation measures must be provided to survivors of sexual assault.
  • Provision of improved infrastructure to make cities safer for women, including well-lit pavements and bus stops, help lines and emergency services.
  • Effective registration, monitoring and regulation of transport services (whether public, private or contractual) to make them safe, accessible and available to all.
  • Compulsory courses within the training curriculum on gender sensitisation for all personnel employed and engaged by the State in its various institutions, including the police.
  • That the police do its duty to ensure that public spaces are free from harassment, molestation and assault. This means that they themselves have to stop sexually assaulting women who come to make complaints. They have to register all FIRs and attend to complaints. CCTV cameras should be set up in all police stations and swift action must be taken against errant police personnel.
  • Immediate setting up of fast track courts for rape and other forms of sexual violence all across the country. State governments should operationalise their creation on a priority basis. Sentencing should be done within a period of six months.
  • The National Commission for Women has time and again proved itself to be an institution that works against the interests of women. NCW’s inability to fulfil its mandate of addressing issues of violence against women, the problematic nature of the statements made by the Chairperson and its sheer inertia in many serious situations warrants that the NCW role be reviewed and auditedas soon as possible.
  • The State acknowledges the reality of custodial violence against women in many parts of the country, especially in Kashmir, North-East and Chhattisgarh. There are several pending cases and immediate action should be taken by the government to punish the guilty and to ensure that these incidents of violence are not allowed to be repeated.
  • Regarding the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2012, women’s groups have already submitted detailed recommendations to the Home Ministry. We strongly underline that the Bill must not be passed in its current form because of its many serious loopholes and lacuna. Some points:

–      There has been no amendment to the flawed definition of consent under Sec 375IPC and this has worked against the interest of justice for women.

–      The formulation of the crime of sexual assault as gender neutralmakes the identity of the perpetrator/accused also gender neutral. We demand that the definition of perpetrator be gender-specific and limited to men. Sexual violence also targets transgender people and legal reform must address this.

–      In its current form, the Bill does not recognise the structural and graded nature of sexual assault, based on concepts of hurt, harm, injury, humiliation and degradation. The Bill also does not use well-established categories of sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault and sexual offences.

–      It does not mention sexual assault by security forces as a specific category of aggravated sexual assault. We strongly recommend the inclusion of perpetration of sexual assault by security forces under Sec 376(2).

Endorsed by the following groups and individuals:

 

  • Citizens’ Collective against Sexual Assault (CCSA)
  • Purnima, Nirantar, New Delhi
  • Sandhya Gokhale, Forum Against Oppression of Women, Bombay
  • Deepti, Saheli, Delhi
  • Mary John, Centre for Women’s Development Studies (CWDS), New Delhi
  • Jagori, Delhi
  • Vimochana, Bangalore
  • Stree Mukti Sanghathan, Delhi
  • Madhya Pradesh Mahila Manch
  • Kavita Krishnan, AIPWA, New Delhi
  • Anuradha Kapoor ,Swayam, Calcutta
  • Kalpana Mehta, Manasi Swasthya Sansthan, Indore
  • Nandita Gandhi, Akshara, Bombay
  • Indira, Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression, (WSS), New Delhi
  • National Alliance of people’s Movements (NAPM)
  • Mallika, Maati, Uttarakhand
  • Meena Saraswathi Seshu, SANGRAM, Sangli
  • GRAMEENA MAHILA Okkutta, Karnataka
  • WinG Assam
  • Arati Chokshi, PUCL, Bangalore.
  • Action India, Delhi
  • Majlis Law, Legal Services for Women, Mumbai
  • Sahiayar (Stree Sangathan), Vadodara, Gujarat
  • Vasanth Kannabiran (NAWO, AP) Asmita
  • Sheba George, SAHRWARU
  • SAMYAK, Pune
  • Shabana Kazi, VAMP
  • Sruti disAbility Rights Centre, Kolkata
  • Forum to Engage Men (FEM), New Delhi
  • MASVAW( Men Action for stopping Violence Against Women), UP
  • Breakthrough, New Delhi
  • V Rukmini Rao, Gramya Resource Centre for Women, Secunderabad
  • LABIA, a queer feminist LBT collective, Mumbai
  • Law Trust, Tamil Nadu
  • Men’s Action to Stop Violence agaisnt Women (MASVAW), UP
  • National Forum for Single Women’s Rights
  • NAWO-AP, Arunachal Pradesh Women’s Welfare Society (APWWS)
  • Indigenous Women’s Resource Centre (IWRC)
  • New Socialist Initiative, Delhi
  • Gabriele Dietrich, Pennurimai Iyakkam
  • Sangat, a South Asian Feminist Network
  • Stree Mukti Sanghatana, Mumbai
  • SWATI, Ahmedabad
  • Tamil Nadu Women Fish Workers Forum
  • Subhash Mendhapurkar,SUTRA, H.P.
  • Mario, Nigah, queer collective, New Delhi
  • Sushma Varma, Samanatha Mahila Vedike, Bangalore
  • Priti Darooka, PWESCR (The Programme on Women’s Economic,Social and Cultural Rights), New Delhi
  • Pushpa Achanta (WSS, Karnataka)
  • AWN, Kabul
  • AZAD and Sakha Team, Delhi
  • Ekta, Madurai
  • Empower People
  • Vrinda Grover
  • Chayanika Shah, Bombay
  • Aruna Roy
  • Kalyani Menon-Sen, Feminist Learning Partnerships, Gurgaon
  • Nandini Rao
  • Pratiksha Baxi
  • Amrita Nandy
  • Farah Naqvi, Writer & Activist, Delhi
  • Nivedita Menon
  • Urvashi Butalia
  • Kaveri R I, Bengaluru
  • Dunu Roy
  • Harsh Mander
  • Anil TV
  • Laxmi Murthy, Journalist, Bangalore
  • Rahul Roy
  • Rituparna Borah, queer feminist activist
  • Ranjana Padhi, New Delhi
  • Trupti Shah, Vadodara, Gujarat
  • Vasanth Kannabiran
  • Sudha Bharadwaj
  • Veena Shatrugna,  Hyderabad
  • Kamayani Bali Mahabal
  • Kiran Shaheen, Journalist and activist
  • Lesley A Esteves, journalist, New Delhi
  • devangana kalita, assam
  • Aruna Burte
  • Anita Ghai
  • Mohan Rao, New Delhi
  • Rakhi Sehgal, New Delhi
  • Geetha Nambisan
  • Charan Singh, New Delhi
  • Manjima Bhattacharjya
  • Jinee Lokaneeta,Associate professor, Drew University, Madison, NJ
  • Kavita Panjabi, Jadavpur University, Kolkata
  • Albertina almeida, Goa
  • Satyajit Rath, New Delhi
  • Prerna Sud, New Delhi
  • Priya Sen, New Delhi
  • Aarthi Pai, Bangalore
  • Kalpana Vishwanath, Gurgaon
  • Aisha K. Gill, Reader, University of Roehampton, London
  • Ammu Abraham, Mumbai
  • Anagha Sarpotdar, Activist and PhD Student, Mumbai
  • Anand Pawar
  • Anuradha Marwah, Ajmer Adult Education Association (AAEA), Ajmer
  • Asha Ramesh, activist/researcher/consultant
  • Bondita
  • Gauri Gill, New delhi
  • Sophia Khan, Gujarat
  • Niranjani Iyer, Chennai
  • Dyuti Ailawadi
  • Gandimathi Alagar
  • Gayatri Buragohain – Feminist Approach to Technology (FAT), New Delhi
  • Geetha Nambisan, Delhi
  • Sadhna Arya, New Delhi
  • Vineeta Bal, New Delhi
  • Suneeta Dhar
  • Geeta Ramaseshan, Advocate, Chennai
  • Sonal Sharma, New delhi
  • Anusha Hariharan, Delhi/Chennai
  • Jayasree.A.K,
  • Gautam Bhan, New Delhi
  • Jayasree Subramanian, TISS,Hyderabad
  • Jhuma Sen, Advocate, Supreme Court
  • Teena Gill, New Delhi
  • Kannamma Raman
  • Karuna D W
  • Kavita Panjabi
  • Shalini Krishan, New Delhi
  • Lalita Ramdas, Secunderabad
  • Manasi Pingle
  • Madhumita Dutta, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
  • Manoj Mitta
  • Pamela Philipose
  • Parul Chaudhary
  • Preethi Herman
  • Sunil Gupta, New Delhi
  • Radha Khan
  • Rama Vedula
  • Rebecca John
  • Renu Khanna, SAHAJ
  • Rohini Hensman (Writer and Activist, Bombay)
  • Rohit Prajapati, Environmental activist, Gujarat
  • Roshmi Goswami
  • Shipra Nigam, Consultant Economist, Research and Information Systems, New Delhi
  • Shipra Deo, Agribusiness Systems International Vamshakti, Pratapgarh
  • Rukmini Datta
  • Sridala Swami
  • Sarba Raj Khadka, Kathmandu
  • Satish K. Singh, CHSJ
  • Shinkai Karokhail, from the Afghanistan Parliament
  • Sima Samar, Kabul
  • Smita Singh, FTII, Pune
  • Subhalakshmi Nandi
  • Sujata Gothoskar
  • Swar Thounaojam
  • Inayat Sabhikhi
  • Jaya Vindhyala, Hyderabad

 

Manipur actor assault: Journalist killed in police firing during violent protests


Manipur, Posted on Dec 23, 2012 a

 

Imphal: A video journalist was shot dead when the police opened fire during violent protests against the alleged molestation of an actress in Imphal. The police opened fire when protesters tried to torch a police bus. The journalist took two bullets, including one in the chest.

The actress had alleged she was assaulted by an NSCN-IM worker while hosting a cultural event. She had said the security personnel present at the spot just stood by and watched. Violent protests erupted in the city with police bursting tear gas shell to disperse angry crowds while film and theatre artistes called for a bandh protesting against the alleged assault.

Protesters in the strike, which was called by the Manipur Film Forum, also pelted stones and vehicles and damaged a police van in Imphal. There were scenes of tyre burning and road blocking across the state’s capital. Life in Manipur has been crippled with shops, markets, business and entertainment houses closed and transport services cancelled.

 

Manipur’s Irom Sharmila: Our Irom Sharmila # Sundayreading #Poems


By- Upal Deb

“Thunder will blow away/

Storms too are ephemeral/

though shameless, the dark force will bid farewell/

to beauty someday//

Spring goes on endless”.

This is how a young Manipuri poet sings the heart of everybody of his state. Spring in heart can wait. But this heart will sing on. Till the boots and bullets bid farewell. The heart of hearts, our Meira Paibi, this is how a Kerala playwright dubbed IROM SHARMILA, a torch-bearer….can rekindle a hope, or awaken us cautiously to the spite of state laws. Sharmila is a champion to the cause of human rights in her state. Specifically, she is seeking the withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), an emergency legislation that has been in force in Manipur since 1980, under which the right to life lies suspended. Fake encounters, torture, rapes and the disappearance of ordinary citizens are commonplace in regions that come under AFSPA. Since November 2000, when a group of soldiers from the Assam Rifles shot dead a 10 civilians standing at a bus-stop, she has refused to eat, drink or even brush her teeth, she has not seen her mother too since the fast began. Charged with trying to commit suicide, she has been repeatedly arrested, detained and force-fed by tubes inserted into her nose twice a day. Her sacrifice focuses on a struggle barely glimpsed in the rest of India, let among the wider world. A decades-long insurgency by up to 50 armed groups and the subsequent rule by troops may only see a saturnalia where as a poet from different land said, “Between the closed eyes/ in the air all black”. Rule of the gun in a lunatic frenzy. But Manipur survives on hope. Blood its witness.
This post of poems offers a peep into poetic responses to a state in siege, offers a nod to the resilience of Sharmila and her people. Needless to say, her people include us all living between death-wish and dream of spring, between wounds of dawn and songs of life.

1. ~YES~/ K.Satchidanandan (Malayalam)
(For Irom Sharmila)

My body is
my flag at half-mast.
My water comes
from Tomorrow’s river,
my bread,
from the wind’s kitchen.
In my brain is a bullet,
green like the clairvoyante’s parrot.

My name is the last letter
of my ancient language,
the final answer to every riddle,
the moral of every proverb,
the god of every magic chant,
the ominous truth of every oracle.

My life leaves me everyday
and everyday it comes back
like the bird that survives the hunters
to return to its nest
with the odour of the forest-rain.

In the night emptied of
the morning’s greetings
and the evening’s prayers,
I lie alone under one desolate star
like the broken bench
in an abandoned village teashop
holding on still
to the warmth and odour
of yesterday’s visitors.

I have forgotten love
like the nameless flower
once seen in a flash
on a village hillock;

my childhood lies sunk in the sand
like the paper boat
pulped by the heavy rain.

My poems are the autumn’s
last yellow leaves.

My kids turned into vapour
by the echoes of rifles’ reports
will come down heavily
as a rain of blood
over those soldiers of hell.

I won’t be there; but
my hope will be :
a word from the mountain
that doesn’t need to be tube-fed,
a poem from the woods
no boots can crush,
an alphabet of steel
no bayonet can pierce,
a purple hibiscus:

My Manipur heart
ever in bloom.

(TR: By the poet from the original Malayalam. K. Satchidanandan is one of India’s finest poets and a respected critic. He was a nominee for the Nobel literature prize in 2011).

2. ~Ibomcha Singh~/Subodh Sarkar (Bengali)

’95, in a wintry Delhi, in a poetry reading
at Sahitya Akademi,
Ibomcha Singh twittered out like a bird:
–Come in my homeland, at Manipur’s Moirang

Moirang, what a lovely name it is, who named it?
Just in a distance, Asia’s most beautiful lake, Loktak,
A colour like a child’s gum.
There’s nothing lovelier than
a child’s gum.

In the midnight, from Manipur a phone call: Ibomcha Singh
I said: what’s happening there in your state?

–What’s happening? Don’t you all know this?
If tomorrow the Assam Rifles
barge into Tagore’s Jorasanko household
and masturbate in front of Rabindranath?
How will you feel?
If tomorrow at the Gariahat Road a teacher
is stripped and made to do rounds of
sit-down stand-up before his students?
How will you feel?
If tomorrow the daughter of your Sankha Ghosh
is bundled off? How will you feel?

Ibomcha Singh was in tears

I sat motionless
Did he call from Manipur?
Or from across India?
Nine hills surrounding
the Loktak Lake are fading out
Trucks of the Assam Rifles
march through these hills
Did they kidnap Manorama, did they?

Did Ibomcha Singh call me,
Or was it anyone else?
His daughter can’t go to the school
If she doesn’t return!
No, how can this be possible,
we have one Constitution
who has scripted another?

–The military can quarantine you
You cannot lead a nation with them
Even the military know this
and you do not know this?

(Tr: Upal Deb from Bengali. Subodh Sarkar is a well-known name in contemporary Bengali poetry. His poetry is often marked by mordant irony and insights into our social dynamics).

3. ~ Sister~/ Saratchand Thiyam (Manipuri)

This rain has not let up
Don’t get out yet, sister.

It’s only a semblance of afternoon
After it decided to live in
With its paramour Night
This is no longer the afternoon we know

Your umbrella alone will be useless, sister
You’ll not be able to cover
Your body from the raindrops.

Haven’t you heard this sound
The commotion in every home
Of the still incoherent babies.
Don’t you go sister
This rain is only becoming harder
Don’t you go sister
Don’t you go.

Look sister, every courtyard
Has become
Mangarak kanbi*
Since, I won’t allow to go
Every road is reverberating
With the deafening utterance of boots.

Hide inside the house, sister
Don’t you go at all

*Mangarak kanbi is a place in Manipur. Early Meiteis used to throw
the bodies of people who died unnatural deaths in Mangarak kanbi.

(TR: Robin S. Ngangom from Manipuri. A very popular poet, Saratchand Thiyam is
also a sports columnist. He is an engineer by profession).

4. ~Manipur~/Mona Lisa Jena (Odia)

The soldiers can recognize
They can sense the stench
A roof without walls on the wayside
Breathing of eleven dead human beings
It smothers their lungs….
How many years more
till her petition lies unanswered?
Alone,
She gasps out these days
in a mud hut, walled by gun point
An ordinary young woman, dogged to the core,
She is not afraid of working hard
She does not beg anyone….
Like this, one morning
Many, many days ago
A morsels of rice ran short
In the Ima Market
Thousands of ‘mothers’ had assembled
At Kangla’s main roads
Not even a smidgen
of rice could be shipped way from their country.
Like this
Just recently,
They had uncovered their bosoms and humiliated
the unashamed administrators

And yet,
They were not shameless.
They did not vend their semi-naked body
In the market place
At the Ima Market
Of women only.

From the long over bridge
One can see clear
their carnival, all tinctured in crimson
because many women are together
they do not ripple out
A sea of flames….

Their dust-laden sobbing
And the flashes
wafting in fitfully
leave trails in the heart:
It is painful to be a woman!

(TR: By the poet from Odia. Monalisa Jena is a promising Odia short story writer and poet.).

5. ~Manipur: 2~/ Thaudam Netrojit Singh (Manipuri)

What’s the crime of these children,
Are they disinherited from life?
Why do they ride the cremation-bed?
In your inviting lap
are they so fond of death
like nectar-like mother’s milk?

The paths to the cremation ground
are all mud today
Mothers’ tears mingle with
blood of the cremation
in dry colours of the red rose

Say
for whom is the door
of the vacant room open
before the despairing heart of the veiled mothers?

What else can you hear
other than sad sound of the cymbals and
mridangam?
Have you ever heard
love songs echoing back, floating from
a land of peace?
Did the generous men sing paeans
in the infinite sky for you alone
in hope of flying till eternity
in wings of white pigeons
whose feet are tied with
garlands?

No
You’re only the night without a face
Even your blue sky
pales in smoke.

(37-year old Thaudam Netrojit Singh is an up-and-coming Manipuri poet, playwright and story writer).

6. ~Death of a Poet~/ Irungbom Deven (Manipuri)

In a closed abandoned room
lies a decomposed corpse
rotten, putrid
body of some poet
Cause of his death
still unknown
The police let out offhand:
This is a suicide
People around whisper:
This is certainly a murder
Whatever
the reality is
he is dead
With his poems in hand
the police finally say:
They are his suicide note.

7. ~News of My Death~/ Irungbom Deven

1
Last night an unknown man
was mercilessly killed
The body was not found
Combing operation is on

2
Morning
Evening
Night
I walk on endlessly
towards the unknown
I walk
my dead body
on the shoulders.

3
On the front page
of the newspapers
the news of my death
with photos

I am reading this news!

(TR: 5, 6 and 7 by Upal Deb from Bengali translation of original Manipuri poems. Irungbom Deven is a leading Manipuri poet. He is a professional doctor).

 

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