The Struggle For Justice In Manipur #AFSPA


 

By Graham Peebles

03 May, 2013
Countercurrents.org

The primary colours of any civil democracy are we would agree, social justice, freedom of expression, freedom to protest and participation. India, with a population of 1.3 billion people is regularly hailed as the largest democracy in the world. At first glance the governments pretentions to democracy would appear to be justified, after all there is, on paper at least, an independent judiciary, a free press – freely owned from top to toe by corporations – a thriving civil society and, of course, the cornerstone of any democratic state: the haloed parliamentary elections, totally funded and (therefore) fully owned, top to toe, by the same corporations that count the national and regional newspapers, radio and television networks as their own, as well as growing portfolios of natural assets; rivers, forests, water supplies, mountains (full of bauxite), and other mineral resources.

Where elements of democratic necessity are lacking, democracy is absent, and if there is a single tenet upon which the democratic dream is built, it must surely be justice: legal justice, together with social justice, both of which are essential. With cries of inequality ringing out across the world, social justice – solidly founded upon principles of fairness, is universally missing.

In large parts of India not only is there little or no social justice, but the observation of judicial law is also lacking as government agencies and security forces trample on federal law, the Indian constitution, and a range of Internationally binding agreements. State violence, injustice and corruption, under the comforting cloak of impunity have long taken root in vast tracts of the country, most notably the Northeastern and Central States, where local people, herded together under the terrorist tainted banner of ‘Maoists’, or ‘rebels’ are waging a tribal uprising against government military and paramilitary forces.

State Criminality and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act

Manipur, like its neighbouring States in the Northeast is awash with government paramilitary, for over five decades it’s people have been petitioning and fighting for self-determination. They bear witness to the plague of state criminality, violent injustice and corruption surging through the country. Widespread rape, torture, false imprisonment and extra judicial killings, are all in use as methods of government oppression and control that are poisoning life in the region.

In March 2012i the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Christof Heynes, spoke of the “excessive use of force by police including fake encounters, custodial deaths and traditional practices affecting women such as honour killings, and dowry deaths”, he called for justice for victims and for the government to set up a “credible Commission of Inquiry” into extrajudicial killings. The panel should investigate “past violations, propose relevant measures to deal with these, and work out a plan of action to eradicate practices of extrajudicial executions.”

Justice is a jewel that unsurprisingly, eludes the disadvantaged and vulnerable throughout India; most at risk of abuse Heynes tells us, are “women and minorities — religious minorities, as well as Dalits [so called untouchables from the lowest caste]…. Adivasis [and] human rights defenders, including Right to Information activists…. and their protection deserves special measures.” Alas the only ‘special measures’ these marginalised people and advocates of justice are receiving in corporate India are to be found in the draconian articles of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) 1958. A law that is anathema to the democratic principles India proclaims to cherish. It grants immunity to security personnel committing wide-ranging offenses to innocent civilians. Human Rights Watch (HRW) 19/10/2011ii, state, that the law “grants the armed forces the power to shoot to kill in law enforcement situations, to arrest without warrant, and to detain people without time limits.” Soldiers acting with impunity are, HRW relay, “routinely engaging in torture and other ill-treatment during interrogation”.

Introduced in 1958 in Nagaland, the AFSPA descended onto the ‘disturbed’ districts of Manipur in 1980, creeping then into Jammu and Kashmir, until it permeated much of the Northeast of the country. The ‘emergency’ law, which Parliament and the people were promised was to be in operation for only six months, has lived on for 52 years and hundreds of deaths, rapes and false imprisonments later, is still being used to shield security personnel committing criminal acts. The AFSPA, as all unjust actions – far from easing tension has exacerbated the situation and fed insurgent groups, The Hindu 7/02/2013iii record, “In 1958 there was one “terrorist” group in the North East. Manipur had two groups when the State was brought under the Act. Today, Manipur has more than twenty such groups, Assam has not less than fifteen, Meghalaya has five of them and other States have more groups.“

Working for justice

The Government, perhaps keen to conceal the conflict taking place in Manipur, refused the UN Special Rapporteur permission to visit the State in 2012. Through the committed work of human rights groups and political activists in the region, the struggle for justice and the outrage against widespread human rights abuses, are kept persistently present. The figurehead is the heroic Irom Sharmilla Chanu. An “icon of public resistance”, the New York Times 8/02/2011iv called her, she bravely represents the people of Manipur, particularly the women of the state in their struggle for justice against the hated AFSPA, the excessive military presence and the violent abusive methods of security personnel.

The right to protest is another pre-requisite of democracy alongside justice. Peaceful or otherwise, protest is strongly discouraged in India, by a government eager to suppress dissent and present a sparkling-clean market-friendly image to the world. Within three days of Sharmilla’s peaceful protest, she was arrested, charged with attempted suicide – illegal in India, and imprisoned, without trial, for one year – the maximum sentence. This bizarre process has been repeated ever since, resulting in her being held in judicial custody for the last twelve years. She was last released on 12th March only to be re-arrested two days later.

Imprisoned, The Independent 4/03/2013v report, in “the secure wing of the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences hospital in the city of Imphal” she is force-fed by the police using nasogastric intubation – a tube inserted into her nostril. She pleads ‘not guilty’ to the charge of attempted suicide, and rightly calls for all criminal charges to be dropped. Amnesty International (AI) 20/03/2013vi demanding her immediate release from police custody, report her saying “I love life…. I do not want to commit suicide. Mine is only a non-violent protest. It is my demand to live as a human being.” A hunger strike the British Medical Association makes clear, “is not equivalent to suicide. Individuals who embark on hunger strikes aim to achieve goals important to them but generally hope and intend to survive.” (Ibid)

Her well-documented political protest against abuse and injustice in Manipur, and specifically against the internationally condemned AFSPA, was fuelled by the shooting of 10 civilians in the village of Malon, near Manipur’s capital, by the Assam Rifles. They are one of a number of Government forces present within the State that have been implicated in a barrage of cases (yet to be investigated) of murder, rape and torture, most notoriously perhaps, the rape and murder of Thangjam Manorama in July 2004. Human Rights Watchvii report Manorama’s “bullet-ridden body was found at around 5:30 a.m. on July 11, 2004 by villagers near Ngariyan Maring, about four kilometers from her house.” she had been arrested at home, beaten and HRW report, “tortured” by members of the Assam Rifles, who were responsible for her murder. The incident so outraged the community that a group of elderly women staged a naked demonstration in front of the Assam Rifles headquarters, while carrying a banner that read: “Indian Army, Rape Us.”viii

Sharmilla’s peaceful action is the loudest cry in an army of voices calling for the repeal of the AFSPA. The Womens International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)ix state that the AFSPA, “continues to increase militarisation in the North East, augment impunity and facilitate human rights abuses including rape and other forms of torture, forced disappearances, and killings of civilians.” There is broad recognition in India, HRW 19/10/2011x report, “that the AFSPA should be repealed because it has led to so many abuses. Prime Minister Singh should overrule the army and keep his promise [made in 2004] to abolish this abusive law”. Various Indian bodies have recommended repealing the law, including amongst others, the Jeevan Reddy Commission (back in 2005), which described the situation in Manipur as “grave” and the Prime-Ministers Working Group on Confidence-Building Measures. In January this year The Justice Verma Committee on Amendments to Criminal Law found “that the AFSPA legitimised impunity for sexual violence, and recommended an urgent review of the law”.

An unjust law worth fighting

Reviews, recommendations, proposed amendments all miss the unjust violent point, and fail to demand that the law, which is an abhorrence to any society, democratic or not, be scrapped totally, and thorough investigations of past state criminality initiated. This commonsense view, is one that not only the conscience of the UN holds but the Supreme Court of India, which acknowledges that the conflict in Manipur is a fight for “self-determination”, also shares. It is, it seems, the army generals who are devoutly attached to the AFSPA. The Hindu reports Mr P. Chidambaram, the former Union Home Minister and now Finance Minister saying the “Army Chiefs have taken a strong position that the Act should not [even] be amended”, but retained in “disturbed” areas – ignoring the fact that the army is causing the disturbance. Government subservience to the men with guns has caused The Hindu to asks “Who is it that rules India”? The rupee-rich multi-national corporations, albeit via ‘democratically’ elected representatives, is the majority response.

Christof Heynes during his visit in March, made an unequivocal demand for the law to be scrapped, saying “the repeal of this law will not only bring domestic law more in line with international standards, but also send out a powerful message that instead of a military approach the government is committed to respect for the right to life of all people of the country.” The application of the law denies “the right to life” he said. His statement emphasises a chorus of comments made by the UN since 1997. In 2007, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination urged the Government to repeal the Act, and in March 2009, Navanethem Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights herself demanded it be repealed. Such common-sense calls, as so many issuing forth from the table of the UN, have been resolutely ignored. The inviolable sanctity of the ‘nation state’, together with the unrepresentative out-dated Security Council, is constraining the UN and overriding the human rights of the people, which the Assembly of Nations was founded to establish and safeguard.

In Manipur, the most basic of the 30 rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, (UDHR) – the right to life, liberty and security – also the right, “to be protected from arbitrary arrest, and to be free from torture and other ill-treatment”, are being trampled on by government security forces with, thanks to the AFSPA, impunity.

These unconditional rights are to be found not only in the pages of the UDHR, but within the hearts of just men and women throughout the world. They are everyone’s birth-right, beyond caste, class, income or position, and must be rightly observed.

Graham Peebles is Director of The Create Trust, www.thecreatetrust.org A UK registered charity (1115157). Running education and social development programmes, supporting fundamental Social change and the human rights of individuals in acute need. Contact , E:graham@thecreatetrust.org

 

Indian Army –Magic Formula to have beautiful and successful daughters ? #WTFad #AFSPA #Kashmir #Manipur


Dear Indians

Do you want a daughter ? No of course not, why will you want a girl child , she is such a burden and a son will only carry on the family name etc etc… blah blah.

Oh No  !  you dont want to have a  girl child !!!

Well  in shillong specifically and allover india generally, the  Indian army  is giving the incentive, to have a girl child. Wow, this advertisement will go a long way in balancing child sex ratio ?  and it might also give impetus to the ‘ Laadli Campaign, which is in deep shit for now, 42% girls dropped from Laadli scheme over 2 years

army

So above in the advertisement you see—  PRIYANKA  Chopra, Gul Panag, Preity zinta,  Anushka  Sharma , Celina Jaitley , Simmi Garewal,  Amrita singh, Chitrangadha , Sakshi Tanwar, and it says -‘If you want to have beautiful and successful daughters  join INDIAN ARMY”,.

Now , Indians this  is your  chance dont let ti go away.. RUSSSSHHH TO INDIAN ARMY,  if you want to have BEAUTIFUL daughters who will become a hit  Bollywood  or television actresses, and will make you PROUD and will  add to the great  HONOR  of your family, ie   if they save themselves from honor killing.!

Also all women in the ad are BEAUTIFUL as per what is  ingrained in our brains. The super-skinny, super-tall, and amazingly gorgueous figure; The Super-Models and Actresses.The  certain typecast images fed on physical appearances and . If you don’t fit into those notions, you feel terrible – that’s why people are unhappy about their bodies. This advertisement further promotes, the fact  that to succeeed you need to have a hour glass figure ?. How do you define beauty ? Who said “big” isn’t beautiful? Who said curves aren’t sexy?
Who told you to change who you are, loosing the weight that you’ve gained so far. For me Tuntun, Manorama  all were beautiful also. beauty has nothing to do with your body but your innerself , your personality as a whole. For me Sheetal Sathe, Soni Sori, Aparna Marandi, Irom Sharmila are all BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE, and SUCCESSFUL as well.

 The Fact that  whether you will  have a daughter or son THE MANS SPERM WILL DECIDE, if  you have a daughter, she has to decide her life and what’s success for her ?

This  sexist  advertisement further strengthens  the stereotypes feminist have been fighting.  Women are human being and not relationships , think about them outisde their roles as  daughters mothers and sisters. Valourising women as  daughters, sisters, , mothers, bhabhi, dadi and Nani.  Today women are screaming at top of their voice-– ” I am not your  Mother, Wife, Sister or daughter . I am a PERSON.  So this ad, adds to all the sexists ads which are defining every woman by her relationship to another person rather than as a person in her own right; and that relationship (by implication if not stated overtly) is usually with a man. The self-sacrificing mother who bravely sends her son to war; the devoted sister who pampers her brother, the obedient daughter who makes her  PARENTS  proud, as stated in the ad . Women are  fed up being boxed into traditional roles. They are angry at being told what to wear, how to behave and lead their lives.  Respect women”, we tell our sons, “for they are all someone’s mother, sister or daughter.” Aha,,,,, yes…..  But the childless woman;  and a  woman whose husband is no more or whose  father has died and has no brother to ‘protect her honour’ — well, she’s fair game, isn’t she?  This is the kind of logic we perpetuate when we glorify a woman by her relationship rather than as a person.

I wonder if all these ‘ SUCCESSFUL DAUGHTERS’  have given their permission to be on the Advertisement and if they agree

and gulpanag tweets says so,

About the join army ‘ad’.Whether in jest or not,I have no problem with it.I owe 100% of what I am to my AF upbringing. Proud of it. @rwac48

— Gul Panag (@GulPanag) April 14, 2013

I wonder,   if all of them are  proud of  The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act . which is to-date the single most direct instrument violating the democratic rights of the people of the North East and of Jammu and Kashmir. The Act is implemented when an area is declared ‘disturbed’ by either the central or the state government. Since 2 November 2000, she has been on hunger strike to demand that the Indian government repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA), which she blames for violence in Manipur and other parts of northeast India. Having refused food and water for more than 500 weeks, she has been called “the world’s longest hunger striker”.

What is  rationale for  keeping AFSPA ,  thinking that security persons who rape innocent women should enjoy impunity in the name of national security? For whose security was the law enacted, for that of the country or of the criminals in uniform? Whenever some change is suggested in the Act the army seems to oppose it and the civilian government buckles under its pressure. For Eg , when the Jeevan Commission appointed to inquire into the alleged rape and murder of 30-year old Manorama Devi of Imphal in Manipur arrested by the Assam Rifles suggested  AFSPA should be repealed ,the  Government did not even publish the report.

Do you all know of woman called Manorma ?  In 2004, the women of Manipur held a protest after the brutal murder of Thangjam Manorama who was taken into custody from her home by the Assam Rifles under suspicion of having links with rebels. Her bullet ridden body was found a few kilometres away from her home, bearing signs of torture. Twelve Manipuri women came out naked, holding a banner saying ‘Indian Army Rape Us’ to protest against the paramilitary forces of the Assam Rifles demanding justice and taking a stand against the many rapes of other girls. Despite the curfew imposed, the protests by the women continued as they wanted the men responsible to be punished

One of the major rape cases in the history of Kashmir and indeed whole of India is the Kunan Poshpora mass rape incident. A village in northern Kashmir’s Kupwara district, Kunan Poshpora, on February 23, 1991 witnessed incidents of alleged mass rape of 20 women by the Army troops in one night. The incident drew the attention of national and international media. However this was soon forgotten and the womenfolk of the village landed in unending troubles. Women who deserved the respect and honor of the society, were not secure anymore form the cruel face of the armed forces and since that incident, numerous other cases of rape and enforced disappearances have come to fore in the last three decades. Another case which shook the region was the 2009 Shopian rape and murder case which resulted in protests rocking the whole Valley and several families lost their loved ones in the agitation.

Some  more cases of rape and sexual assault against personnel of the Army and central forces in Kashmir:

Case against Harbhajan Singh and Gurtej Singh

May 15, 1994: Rashtriya Rifles men entered the house of a couple and took the husband to Qazigund Hospital. When he returned the next morning, his wife told him she had been gangraped. A case of rape an other charges was filed at Qazigund police station. Responding to an RTI application, the home department said it sought sanction on January 23, 2006, to prosecute the Army men and have not yet got it. In a 2009 affidavit in the high court, the defence ministry said the state was informed that both accused, Nk Harbajan Singh and Rfn Gurtej Singh, had been tried by a summary general court-martial for rape, sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for 10 years and dismissed from service. “A retrial for the same offence will be in contravention to Article 20 (2) of the Constitution,” it argued.

Case Against Major Arora

January 3, 1997: A family comprising a 60-year-old, his two daughters and a grandson were preparing to go to bed at Manzgam, Kokernag, when some soldiers allegedly broke in. They were allegedly led by Major Arora of 5 Rashtriya Rifles. “He slapped me and dragged my younger sister (then 16) into a room and raped her,” the elder daughter told The Indian Express recently. The elder daughter’s husband had joined the Hizbul Mujahideen and the local army unit would often raid her father’s house. The day of the alleged rape, the Army allegedly picked up the father, who remains untraced 15 years on. The younger sister is now married with children, the elder one said, while her own husband surrendered  to the army, divorced her and remarried.

The police registered a case of rape at Anantnag and the government sought the defence ministry’s sanction to prosecute the officer. In an affidavit in the J&K High Court on June 5, 2009, then defence secretary Ajay Tirkey said the ministry received the request in December 2006 and it is “under consideration in army headquarters/Ministry of Defence”. On January 10, 2012, the ministry, responding to an RTI query, said permission was denied on April 21, 2007. “There were a number of inconsistencies in the statements of witnesses… The lady was forced to lodge a false allegation by anti-national elements,” the MoD said.

Case against Major Aman Yadav

December 5, 1999: Army men led by Major Aman Yadav of 28 Rashtriya Rifles, along with a few counter-insurgents, raided a house at Norpora, Kitter Dhaji, in Rafiabad. The officer allegedly raped a housewife, whose husband wasn’t home, while his men allegedly robbed the house. The family later left the village.

On January 4, 2000, based on a complaint by the victim’s husband, Panzala police lodged an FIR, one of the charges being rape. In an affidavit to the high court on June 5, 2009, then defence secretary Tirkey said the ministry received the request for sanction in January 2009 and “the case is under consideration in Army headquarters/Ministry of Defence”. In response to a separate RTI query, the MoD said sanction was denied on September 23, 2010. It has argued the allegations are “baseless and framed with mala fide intentions to put army on the defensive” Intriguingly, the ministry has cited it as a case of torture leading to death. Calling the allegations “mala fide” was effectively an indictment of J&K police, for it was on the basis of the police probe’s outcome that sanction was denied. There was, however, no follow-up government action. In response to an RTI application, police said they closed the case on August 19, 2011, having declared the accused “untraced”.

Case against Captain Ravinder Singh Tewatia

February 14, 2000: Captain Ravinder Singh Tewatia and three special police officials allegedly entered a house at night in Nowgam, Banihal. Captain Tewatia and one of the SPOs allegedly raped a mother and her daughter in separate rooms. A case of rape was filed in the Banihal police station. Two chargesheets were prepared for house trespass, assault, wrongful restraint and rape, and submitted to the Banihal chief judicial magistrate’s court on April 1, 2000.According to information gathered by rights group International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice through RTI applications, the case was split between a court-martial and criminal courts (in Banihal, Ramban and Jammu). The court-martial found Tewatia guilty of rape, sentenced him to seven years of imprisonment and dismissed him from service. He challenged the findings on October 1, 2000. On December, 31, 2002, the high court set aside the court-martial’s ruling. In 2003, the defence ministry filed a letter patent appeal in the high court, where it is pending. The state government didn’t challenge the high court order.

Rape case against  BSF Personnel

April 18, 2002: Personnel of the BSF’s 58 Battalion allegedly gangraped a 17-year-old in front of her mother, relatives and neighbours, all held hostage at gunpoint in Kullar, Pahalgam. Some 15 or 16 men in a BSF patrol party, passing through their village, had been beating up the girl’s uncle and she had tried to rescue him. A medical examination confirmed rape, while then BSF inspector general (Kashmir Frontiers) G S Gill, too, conceded that BSF personnel had committed rape. The girl identified three men at a parade. The same day, a case of rape was registered at Pahalgam police station. The police say that they submitted a chargesheet before the chief judicial magistrate in Anantnag. There hasn’t been any progress since.

Case against Major Rehman Hussain

November 6, 2004: Troops of 30 RR raided the home of a horsecart driver at Badhra Payeen village in Handwara at night. The man’s younger brother said, “The officer went into my brother’s room and pushed him out.” “He dragged my daughter (then 10) into the kitchen,” the wife of the targeted man this correspondent, adding the officer left and returned after an hour. This time, the woman alleged, she was raped in the kitchen.

The police registered a rape case and the district administration ordered a magisterial inquiry. The Army invoked the AFSPA . The accused officer, Major Rehman Hussain, was tried by a general court martial, which absolved him of rape. He was, however, found “guilty of using criminal force with the intent of outraging the modesty” of the 10-year-old girl and dismissed from service. But he challenged the decision in court and returned to service.

Even the  comments by apex court few days back while hearing PILs filed by families of victims of alleged fake encounters in Manipur, are a stinging rebuke of the lack of political will on revoking laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). In this instance, the government’s response to the damning report of the SC-appointed committee set up to probe six such cases in Manipur was that it agreed that such fake encounters should not take place. But mere “taking note” will not do any more. The government must speedily act to revoke this black law from wherever it is in effect, be it the north-east or Jammu and Kashmir. Blanket immunity for security forces has led to murder, rape and other crimes. And when the legal framework vests such crimes with impunity, it vitiates the basic principles of democracy and the rule of law that are necessary for the citizens of these areas to feel part of the national mainstream.

The  Court  also sharply brought attention to another vital fact: keeping these laws, and thereby maintaining an unnatural state where the armed forces are seen as the primary representatives of government, mutates the whole political, democratic system itself.

Now after  getting a glimpse of AFSPA, what the supreme court of india says of Indian army ?

I wonder  if you  all are still proud of Indian Army

This sexist  advertisement should be immediately removed,

It will be great if  women part of the advertisement ask to do so.

best

Kamayani Bali Mahabal

Not proud of Indian Army

Not a Proud Indian

A Person  , A  Feminist and a  Human Rights Activist

April 15th, 2013

 

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