The March Against AFSPA

March at Jantar Mantar

Repeal AFSPA march at Jantar Mantar

 

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A young Manipuri girl wearing a t-shirt in support of Irom Sharmila, an activist who went on a hunger strike in Nov 2000 as a means of protest.

 

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A young student holding a painting of the ‘Iron Lady Of Manipur’. Mengoubi (fair one) as she is also known, has been released and re-arrested many times. She was arrested from Jantar Mantar in 2006.

AFSPA- Even a teenager in a Kashmir knows what AFSPA stands for. The Armed Forces Special Power Act meant nothing to this Dilli ka Girl. But the past few years that I’ve spent in Kashmir have made a dent on my psyche.  I am not  a supporter of the Kashmiri’s struggle for independence or of the Indian States instance on holding on to it. I claim myself a wanderer, a kind of observer; just reflecting. So this is me reflecting. How would we feel if our houses were searched without  warrants, we were arrested without warrants and once in a while our loved ones would just disappear- without us knowing whether they were dead or alive? Are we going to wish away  the collective anger of the people of Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura and Kashmir; in the hope that it will have no repercussions on our coming generations?

 

A march was organised at  Jantar Mantar today, against AFSPA. A number of organisations  like-  Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign, AIPWA, DSF, The Voices against 377 etc came together to mobilize the civil society. The pictures are from the March.

 

 

One of the few Kashmiri youth at the march. This is what he had to say to me-''You people just want our resources our land but not us.''

One of the few Kashmiri youth at the march. This is what he had to say to me-”You people just want our resources and our land but not us!”

 

 

 

Deepti Sharma from The Voices Against 377, has been supporting the cause since 2000.

Deepti Sharma from-The Voices Against 377, has been supporting the cause, since 2000.

Protesters at the March

Protesters at the March

 

 

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2 thoughts on “The March Against AFSPA

  1. Mainstream India is not sympathetic to the independence movement in Kashmir. It’s a more complicated problem involving Pakistan and may be resolved with the positive intervention of other neighbouring countries also. But for now India does not want to look at Kashmir again. That is why I feel it is counterproductive to link AFSPA in Manipur with AFSPA in Kashmir. But as you say a Dili girl who lived in Kashmir and saw first hand what was going on might reflect but you aren’t going to demand the removal of the AFSPA from Kashmir. Nor will you attack the brave Indian Jawans possibly relatives of yours have served in the Army willing to lay down their lives to protect those who cannot or will not fight to protect themselves. Sharmila’s struggle is not about confrontation. It is against the decrminalization of rape and murder. Any who believe brave jawans need legal protection to rape and murder do not honour the Indian Army. But because it’s not yet a populist demand for Kashmir various muslims group now try to use Sharmila’s struggle to farther both their own careers in Activism and effectively holding back change both in Kashmir and in Manipur. It’s good to reflect. But the speakers and conveners of this SS group are mainly internet activists that’s why so few attend. They work against the police and security forces in J&K and with them in Manipur. How many people would you say attended this joint rally which also asked LBGT and I believe anti Dam protestors to attend. There is a tendency to exaggerate both up and down. It’s human yes. If three street cleaners pass by your mind will tell you there were a dozen more who came to support. Your photos are nice. You now have the right to visit Sharmila Mondays Wednesdays Fridays in Imphal. She was supposed to be presented to Delhi about the same time as this SS group met odd they didn’t mention the trial. They are under orders from their bosses back in Manipur to maintain her isolation. Her next summons is reported to be for 28 May after the elections. I hope you have time to visit her then and take some photos as a follow-up. The production warrant the 11th in the series is against the SSP Imphal Central Jail. But Manipuri officials are above the law. If she is sent to Delhi she will be housed in one of the Manipuri Hostels, the only occasion she was brought it was to Manipur House in Delhi and she was flown out very early morning the day after her trial session. I hope you reflect more deeply. But at least you have begun to reflect upon the kind of India liberation brings to some.

  2. Thank you for taking out the time to write to me. Let me start by apologizing for any offense I may have caused you. That is not the intent of the work that I do. The intention is: as you have noticed- is to reflect. I will not be a hypocrite and claim to understand Irom Sharmila’s struggle. I will not make any claims because I have never been to Manipur and neither have I met Sharmila. I will do a follow up. Thank you for sending me the details.
    Now as far a Kashmir is concerned, I have been working in Kashmir for the past seven years. In 2008 and 2010, I was practically living there. In this period I have met many women who have been raped. I have personally had the pleasure of having my legs felt up and then being threatened by ‘our brave Indian’ by the way drunk ‘jawaans’, for throwing a fit about it. It is not something that I go around mentioning everywhere, for the simple reason that I’m trying and that is the operative word here, ‘trying’ to understand their frustration. As for the Muslim groups talking about Sharmila’s struggle, let me clarify a couple of points. One- I’m not Muslim, two- I’m not a Kashmiri and three- yes, there were mentions about the march in the Kashmiri papers but according to me, the people of Kashmir have too many half widows, too many rape victims and too many orphans of their own to use Sharmila’s struggle for their own Activism. There are always a few rotten apples. But that is bound to happen. When there is so much money which is being pumped into these ‘disturbed areas’, people belonging to all fields are a bit corrupted by it.
    The incident of Kunan Poshpora is something that the SS group brought up. Even at the March it was not just about Sharmila, there was a mention of Kunan Poshpora and a mention of AFSPA in Kashmir. That’s the reason why I wrote what I did. As for my stance on Kashmir, for my own reasons it remains- Repeal AFSPA IN Kashmir.
    Anyway, thank you writing to me. It’s good to engage. At the end of the day we all want a better world. I will do a follow up.

    P.S- Now I know why there were such few attendees at the March!

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