By: A Bimol Akoijam
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Previously on Devil’s Advocate: Deranged Man and Protestors
LP: What do you mean?
DM: If she decides to call off the fast or something happens to her, what will you do?
The leader shots back, “Then, you will see a civil war if anything happens to her! Government of India will be solely responsible …God forbid, if something bad happens to her!
DM: And Armed Forces Special Powers Act?
The leader and protestors look at each others.
The deranged man reads the leaflet again and scratches his head, and looks up at the leader of the protestors, and says, “So, she has been fighting against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, uummm…I see”
“Yes, she has been fighting against this draconian Act”, replies the leader of the protestors.
DM: I know
LP: How do you know?
As their leader asks the question, looking at the clothing and disheveled hair of the deranged man who keeps on scratching his head, the other protestors smile.
DM: Oh, it’s written here…this leaflet that you have given me.
The deranged man scratches his head again as he continues to read the leaflet all over again. Then he looks at the protestors and their leader.
DM: So? Ummm…do you support Sharmila because she is fighting against the Act?
LP: Yes, we support her because she is fighting against AFSPA
DM: You should have told me that. Instead, you said, you are supporting Sharmila because she is ON A FAST!
And the protestors again look at each others.
“Why is she against this Act?” asks the deranged man.
LP: It deprives us of our basic human rights like the “Right to Life”
DM: You mean, AFSPA deprives you of your “Right to Life”?
LP: It allows the army to shoot, even causing death, on the basis of mere suspicion! It’s there in the leaflet.
DM: yeah…I see that but this is wrong…
LP: That’s it…we have been wronged…
DM: No, I mean what you are writing here is wrong. You write here and also say that AFSPA deprives you of the “Right to Life”, but it does not!
DM: Yes, AFSPA does not deny “Right to Life”!
LP: How can you say that? This Act gives power to security forces to shoot to kill even on the basis of suspicion, it’s unconstitutional…
DM: But that was what those who fought against the Act have said in the Supreme Court and the Court has given its judgment that says that the Act is constitutional and the soldier cannot shoot and take the life of a citizen arbitrarily. He must have reasonable ground to justify the suspicion because the Constitution still protects the citizen’s “Right to life” as the Constitution is not suspended while the Act is in operation.
The leader and protestors seem to get puzzled by this observation of the deranged man. And they look at each other. Looking at the leader, the deranged man continues, “Have you read the Supreme Court Judgment?”
The leader stares at the deranged man for while and then uneasily looks at his followers. Slowly turning towards the deranged man, he says, “Errr ahh err…well…errr…yes…long time back!”
As they hear their leader, the followers look at each other. There is an element of disbelief in their glances on what their leader has just said and their own experssions also seem to indicate that they haven’t probably read the judgment even though they have been protesting against this Act for years, repeatedly shouting all these while, the same slogans as they did before their challenge against the Act in Court was rejected by the Supreme Court in 1997.
DM: Then, why are you saying that AFSPA denies “Right to Life”?
The leader keeps quite for a while and looks at his followers, then says, “Well…I don’t agree…you know it is democracy, people have the right to disagree”!
DM: True, but under the democratic system, Judiciary is important, and the Highest Court has given its Judgment which has rejected the view that the Act denies “Right to Life”. Anyway, you must have a reason to disagree? Why do you disagree? What are your reasons behind your diagreement?
LP: Ummm err…leave the Judgment…reasons and all that…it’s all talks…those are all “theories”. We have to understand the “ground reality”!
One of the protestors says, “Yes, yes, “theories” are not important, we must know the “ground reality”!
DM: “Theories”? All talks? Aren’t you also only talking, your slogans and this leaflet?
DM: Anyway, is “Right to Life” a theory or ground reality? Is there such a real thing called “Right to Life”, people do get killed in reality anyway, not only in Manipur. So is “Right to Life” a reality or a theory?
The leader seems to be taken aback by this question of the deranged man. Just as he seems to ponder over it, one of the protestors says in Meiteilon, “Tok-o yaare..angaobasiga waari touranu…kari kanndoino” (it’s ok, stop it, there is no point in talking with this mad man). Another chips in, “Masi mee-se ngaosinnaba oiramganee…Govt ki agent oiramgani…intelligence agency-sing-gee mee soidana oiramgani…ngaoragabu kamaina maana mee-gee judgment-kado paramdoi-no” (this man must be impersonating as a mad man…he must be an agent of the govt…a member of the intelligence agencies…how can a mad man read judgment and all that)!
[box type=”quote” color=”red” size=”small” align=”left”]Masi nupa-se moi-gee atoppa group-ki mee oiramgani…Iche Sharmila-da support touganu, AFSPA-ki fight-ta oina support tou kai-na ngashai haikhrido[/box]Still another protestor looks at the deranged man suspiciously, then turns to his other colleagues and says, “Masi nupa-se moi-gee atoppa group-ki mee oiramgani…Iche Sharmila-da support touganu, AFSPA-ki fight-ta oina support tou kai-na ngashai haikhrido” (This guy must be from the other group, that’s why he was saying that we should fight against AFSPA, not support Sharmila)!
Then the deranged man interrupts them, looking at them and then at their leader, he says, “What are they saying?”
Looking at the deranged man, the leader replies, “Nothing”!
DM: They are saying something though?
Saying this he smiles at the leader. The leader also looks at him.
LP: It’s not important!
DM: Really? What they are saying is not important?
The leader seems to be flummoxed by this pointed question from the deranged man and he seems to ponder on the remarks of the other protestors for a while. Then looking at the deranged man, he continues.
LP: well…err…anyway…what were you asking?
DM: I was asking as to what your friends were saying just now?
LP: Leave that…before that, what were you asking?
DM: Oh that! Well, I was asking, is the “Right to Life” a theory or what you called a ground reality?
LP: Ummm errr..errr…
One of the protestors intervenes, “You must know ground reality”!
LP: Yes…you must know “ground reality”!
DM: That’s ok but you haven’t answered my question and you are trying to avoid…
Before the deranged man could complete, the leader says, “see, people have been killed…you know extra-judicial killings…you must know…”
Just as the leader was saying this, a protestor interrupts, “call Engel-lei, she is there…her husband was also killed in a fake encounter”. And he sends someone to call Engel-lei.
LP: Yes, you must know the “ground reality”…we have amongst us a victim of extra-judicial killing, a young girl in her early 20s whose husband was shot dead right in front of her by Manipur Police Commandos”!
DM: Oh..my God! That’s terrible!
The deranged man seems to be disturbed by this information of a young widow.
LP: See, you must know “ground reality” to understand AFSPA!
DM: But to the best of my knowledge, Manipur Police and its Commandos are not covered by AFSPA; they do not operate under the AFSPA!
The leader looks at the deranged man and then to his followers who also look at each other, as if the remark of the deranged man seems to have unsettled their “ground reality”!
TO BE CONTINUED…