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Irom Sharmila in court again

On June 4, Irom Sharmila will be in court in Delhi, which is to say, she'll be in a court that can capture the national eye (not so true of her appearances in court in Imphal, in the northeastern state of Manipur). The charge against her (attempted suicide, because of her hunger strike) is spurious, and worse, has the pernicious effect of distracting attention from her intention, which is to protest an unjust law--the Armed Forces Special Protection Act. People can be tempted to focus on getting her released, and yet, if she were just straight-up released, she'd very quickly die. The only way to truly save her is to work for the repeal of the AFSPA.

(image source)

Unfortunately, even in Manipur itself, there are those who benefit from the status quo. One journalist who has reported extensively on Manipur and AFSPA writes, "The political leadership, bureaucracy, Army and the insurgent groups all benefit from its biggest industry, AFSPA, and thus perpetuate its continuance" (Source).

How can things change? I don't know. But if it's so hard for the government in Delhi, the government in Manipur, and the army to disintangle from this law, then . . . maybe could the law be hollowed out from within? Could members of the armed forces be asked to make pledges to never violate civilian rights, and could there be rewards for honoring those pledges? Could development funds be tied to policies of inclusivity that assured that economic benefits extended to all ethnic groups and even to former insurgents? How do ordinary citizens in Manipur want things to go? What problems of daily life are most important to them? I cast about for ideas, but I'm not well informed about all the nuances of the situation on the ground, and it's not for me to suggest or conclude anything. I can only watch from the sidelines, biting my nails, and hoping.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 2nd, 2015 07:36 am (UTC)
You hero! Some say Delhi can't change the law. But last week Tripura one of the seven lost sister states of the wild wild east of India voted to remove the AFSPA completely from Tripura and Mr Modi did not overrule them. The Indian Army was not formed to replace the British Army of occupation. I've tried contacting a Tripura Delhi Student group. But northeasterners are naturaliter suspicious. I don't know if anyone will come to see her. So that you mention her name is still a big difference for her. Amnesty International Netherlands has a writing event on 5 June possibly the last day of her trial in Delhi for a few political prisoners world-wide including Sharmila. http://www.wijchenseomroep.nl/index.php/1067-schrijfavond-amnesty-international-wijchen Amnesty International volunteers work tirelessly seldom realising how much of a difference they make. Amnesty International India is corrupt and does seek her death. But I figure since Governments never take heed of Amnesty at the best of times. Publicizing the death plot against her still prevents it from happening whichever side you support.

I have never bought into the trial as distraction theory. The protesters protest too much. If a citizen is wronged the last redress they have in a democracy is the courts. I know this throws people who already know all the facts who the guilty are who did what when and to whom. But for the rest of us a trial is one way of getting the facts out in the open. In prison all cats are grey. If she was being well looked after she would not be given any respect at all by anyone.

She was tortured this much has already been determined by two superior courts two different forms of torture, the Indian NRHC and its Supreme Court. Torture of itself is not illegal in India. It is considered still an effective police tool once they have the guilty party. What americans refer to as the ticking clock scenario but once you accept torture can give you evidence then you're just haggling. Let a magistrate's court look at on-going evidence then. It goes against the prosecution case. If they claim the imprisonment is therapeutic why the isolation orders and petty humiliations. As for the defence if she was ever allowed to make one. Best defence against a charge of attempt to commit suicide is to put forward satyagraha. The trial once it starts can never distract from the issues because the defence would naturally put forward the truth that this is a political fast the primary purpose of which is to shame men of power into repealing the law that decriminalizes rape and murder. I would have brought rebuttal witnesses for example the Chief Minister of Manipur Ibobi Singh and counter that Sharmila is not the one who is mentally imbalanced he is. And all the celebs who love to appear on Telly could have a field day. The Media may not come for one celeb but a cohort of celebs attracts a gaggle of correspondents.
Jun. 3rd, 2015 04:01 am (UTC)
I don't know why LJ marked this comment as "suspicious"--maybe because of the link? Who knows.

once you accept torture can give you evidence then you're just haggling.

I agree: torture must always, and unequivocally, be rejected.

Jun. 2nd, 2015 08:42 am (UTC)
Two other brief updates. S Ngaopuni did not commit suicide there was no suicide note. The story now is that he slipped on a step and was found dead by a prison toilet. Sharmila thinks its a suspciious custodial death. But I don't think anyone cares. Second Mr Khaidem Mani has informed her that he is still representing her that he will not allow her to remove him as counsel and that he is intent on having her killed. He has already informed both of us that he controls the press and no other story will come out about his conduct. The judges appear terrified of him. He is called by activists a human rights lawyer. Though he has also been implicated in an attempt to bypass more honest senior manipur judges and putting forward a corrupt candidate to fill up the bench of the Manipur High Court. The lawyers in Delhi are less openly antagonistic towards Sharmila so they undermine her case by not calling witnesses and sabotaging the trial in Delhi so that Mr Mani can execute the plot to murder her in Imphal. And the cloudcuckoo nature of Manipur is that I have been publicly naming those who plot against her. I served 77 days with torture deferring their last plot but Bubbles Loitongbam and Mr Mani do control the press. And Mr Modi is yet to act against these small town gangsters who run the smaller states with zero accountability and obscene viciousness. I have told you before I will not work with activists because none stand up against them. They are rewarded with career development in human rights by colluding in her death. I am not expecting you to come with to Imphal. I am an old man and it's easy for me to take a beating. But I'll make sure all her letters are offered to you via a publisher friend on our death. Write about us a different story from the lies currently being told. Of course I'd prefer to live with her quietly off lough derg they leave us alone i'll leave them alone. I thought it was a good deal but they are confident no one is watching no one is listening and no one else cares.
Jun. 2nd, 2015 10:23 am (UTC)
I feel so ignorant! I didn't know anything about Tripura and the operations of (and limitations to) the AFSPA there. Thank you for the link to that new article; it gives some insight into how the AFSPA can (potentially, partially) be withdrawn, at any rate.
(I've also just been looking at this 2013 article. It seems there is considerable political will for repeal, but it's opposed by the military.)

Meanwhile, like you, all I can do is try to get better informed, watch on the sidelines,and try as hard as I can to offer personal moral support to Irom Sharmila - whose name will I hope ring this week across India as people realise more and more how much she stands for the absolute best in Indian culture, history and civil tradition.
Jun. 3rd, 2015 03:54 am (UTC)
That article is *excellent*; thank you very much for it. Exceptionally cogent.

I don't know anything really about the Tripura situation, other than the fact of AFSPA being lifted. I noticed that one Twitter person commented that "lifted" is not the same as "repealed." The law is no longer being applied there--but it still exists and could be reinstituted.
Jun. 4th, 2015 08:32 am (UTC)
There is deliberate confusion on this. The law can be repealed by the Central (Federal Government) of India. But obviously they could reenact it. But just as Texas cannot remove a law for the whole of the United States each State in India which has an AFSPA at present some NE States and J&K can remove it by denotifying disturbed area status. This is to do with paragraph 3 of the 7 paragrpah AFSPA (it's a page long in entiretly). That prevents the AFSPA's immunity laws from kicking in. And the special powers of the AFSPA are about immunity. The confusion comes about because the Indian State or whatever it is of Jammu & Kashmir has a distinct separate Disturbed Areas Act which was repealed. But that Act has nothing to do with the clause in paragraph 3 of the AFSPA. So whereas it is true that the Central or Federal Government of India in Delhi can bring in a new law more powerful than the AFSPA it can overrule a local State according to paragraph 3 of the AFSPA but it has never done so in the North East. For example in 2004 in a well dodgey deal designed to grant power to a local mafia family Imphal West and East where 65% of all manipuris actually live was denotified as a disturbed area. The AFSPA has not applied there since 2004 it was never challenged by the Central Government and never brought back. Tripura began the process of denotifying the AFSPA from all of Tripura last year with very little comment. It's a policy the State Government has been pursuing along with real Development for many years. Some weeks back the Central Government declared the internal border area of another Northeastern State Arunachal Pradesh as disturbed. And within weeks because local people protested loudly clearly taking to the streets most of the new disturbed areas were rolled back in a very fast U turn. So apart from the confusion over the separate disturbed area law for J&K I've heard experts claiming that the local states don't have any power anyway because the Governor actually holds executive power. But that's because they don't understand the Indian Constitution. It's like saying the British PM Cameron doesn't have any executive power it's actually some middle class german woman who runs the country. Put simply for the simple. The AFSPA was removed by the MLAs voted in by the people of Tripura. And it will return if the CM wants it back but not before. Manipur on the other hand is run by mafia families. They are actively seeking Sharmila's death. They make money out of the violence and lack of accountability but unless Mr Modi is serious about change in this tiny part of backward India, it's not looking all that good. The violent and greedy continue to prosper while the rest of us are promised pie in the sky when we die. You really need to stop listening to Northeasterners. Bunch of paid of whores in the best. The only ones I respect are in prison or were and and are now dead.
Jun. 4th, 2015 09:01 am (UTC)
And one more if you want to overcomplicate. The CM of Delhi doesn't have any power over the Governor of Delhi because is a Union Territory not a Full State. Delhi was promised Statehood if they voted BJP. But since they voted for AAP they are not going to get it. According to the Constitution the Governor of a State who actually defines an area disturbed or not is purely a symbolic leader like the Queen of England. They are appointed for fixed terms as a Governor by any party. They shouldn't be replaced because they are symbolic. But they can be moved to any of the State of India. Everybody wants to retire somewhere warm clean no violence nice prostitutes. If they annoy the Central Government they can posted to Manipur. If you have already been posted to Manipur you really don't want to annoy them any farther. In Manipur they influenced the Attorney General into retirement by shooting him twice in the back 2010 Autumn. It was done by one of two State Ministers to whom he was giving anti-corruption advice. The CM ruled it accidental. The AFSPA does not apply in Imphal. There's a woman celebrity cop now BJP politician. She was appointed Governor of one of the NE States and ran away claiming the local cops wanted to kill her and she had to protect her daughter's life. TII. She's in Delhi now. I really need to get some rosaries going. They seem to work by some kind of inertia.
Jun. 2nd, 2015 02:44 pm (UTC)
Walter Fernandez who wrote that piece I believe is a Jesuit. He has a portuguese sounding family name so he is probably from Goa or Mangalore Portuguese West India. He is a Jesuit. So it's another view. And it will be well analyzed researched and cogently argued. Jesuits are clever people. It's impossible to know whose side they are on or who they are working for or what they really think. That's their charism. I could have stopped with he is a Jesuit for any Roman Catholic.

But other views are important. I don't buy into PC or Mr Chidambaram's blaming everyone else. Chidambaram is Tamil Nadhu aristocracy. Westerners sometimes argue family background doesn't matter. But in India you have to understand family. PC is now tweeting joyfully about the repeal of the AFSPA from Tripura. The former PM Manmohan Singh is a northeasterner. He made a telling statement that as PM he is only one person what can he do. Sonia Gandhi runs the Congress Party. She did so for her son. Problem is people prefer her daughter. So long as its descendant of Pandit Nehru it can run the Congress Party and they will return to power at the next election. TII. The Army doesn't want to relinquish any power in Jammu & Kashmir which is a continuation of India's long standing Civil War or Partition. But if you point this out to Indians they become emotional.

If you want to know something equally important which is hard to find from any expert. One of the DONER ministers. (North East Region Development) is the retired Army 4 Star General V K Singh. His daughter married the son of the next in line to be India's 4 Star. When he was in charge of the Army General V K Singh blocked the promotion of a junior and a rival Bikram Singh. But after he retired he stood for the BJP and the Congress party which was in power at the time overruled his decision that his rival was guilty of war crimes and was unfit for high office and promoted him in their last days of power as his successor.

Getting to the point the Indian Army is not as political as the Thai or Pakistani Army. They don't seize power. They never have. They put pressure on politicians which doesn't happen in the West but they don't plot coups. So V K Singh is a four star general who understands military life and what soldiers need. His enemy the current four star is supposed to take orders from him still. There is absolutely no way General Bikram Singh could defy an instruction from retired General V K Singh if he wanted AFSPA gone from Manipur. If he tried then he could be dismissed and then his daughter gets the promotion she has always coveted for her husband's daddy. It's another view.

Put another way Mr Modi is supposedly the strong man of India unlike his predecessor Dr Manmohan Singh. If he met with Sharmila things would change for her. PC has always snubbed Sharmila. The current token N E minister Kiren Rijiju has always snubbed Sharmila. I'd be surprised if any Northeasterners turned up to see her apart from the skeleton crew sent to keep her isolated. I doubt any scribe will ask her any real questions about what is going on in Imphal or her satyagraha.

My plan is very limited. I do not wish to interfere with the black economy of Manipur or of India. I have no desire to expose the hypocrisy of the NGOs there whether secular or religious. I just want one person's life spared. They make their money through the violence and through the conflict economy. They aren't business oriented. They act like spoitl children because for the most part that's what they are. Sociopathic children of rich families accustomed to privilege who live life with a sense of entitlement because of their birth. It's coming to the end now. If they let her live they can rape and murder the rest publish articles designed to maintain the status quo and let the criminals of the hook, attend conferences abroad for first class five star activists and win peace prizes. All I want is her and a boat on lough derg. We all get what we want. There's an easy way to go about this and a hard way. Up to them now.
Jun. 3rd, 2015 03:56 am (UTC)
Family and work connections--and ties of obligation--surely do come into play and are *very* hard to understand without being intimately familiar with a place.
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