Part 1: The human rights crisis in Manipur and the north-east: Victimization of women and children

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By: Usha Thiyam

Context Manipur

In the land of NUPI Lal, Meira Peibis (Local women who safeguard the folks), Sharmila and Manorama, it is unbelievable that such horrific crimes as mentioned below are committed.
[box type=”quote” size=”small” color=”green” align=”right”]I must confess killing an EMa Meira Peibi member, was a shock to everyone at that time. Then, came more shocking news of more women being killed, more Meira Peibis. Whatever be the reason “XYZ” the reason is not strong enough to take on human lives[/box]Indeed it is a human rights disaster. Dead bodies being recovered in awkward positions, hands tied, legs tied, eyes blindfolded, nude, neck being twisted, body parts being twisted. It is not a thriller or crime series on TV but reality that drastically shot up in 2010 for women and children. The number of dead young men in the last decade “shot for XYZ” reason will never be justified. There is no knowledge of any database – perhaps 100s or 1000s. Perhaps, similar to a country ruled by a dictator or those countries with human rights crisis- similar to Sudan, Darfur ? Obvious reply –research please!. Number of widows in the state continued to rise. Not just widows but those infected with mental diseases too and continued to be exploited. Certainly not in chronological order, but the ghastly crimes that falls in just one state indicates there is the need for a international Alarm on human rights disaster in the state. International authorities should step in unless, more deaths and a civil war is carved out.
First, it was “one” disastrous news that an Ema (member of Meira Peibi) was shot and killed. I must confess killing an EMa Meira Peibi member, was a shock to everyone at that time. Then, came more shocking news of more women being killed, more Meira Peibis. Whatever be the reason “XYZ” the reason is not strong enough to take on human lives. Then, came the news about the series of so called attacks by Assam Rifles personal, and the tragedy of Manorama’s death. The event that there was a nude protest at the gate of the Assam Rifles/Kangla to protest against the prevailing molestation, torture and rape of womenfolk and Manorama’s death became a news shared widely.
Then, came the disastrous news of several “northeast” women being molested and raped in Delhi and the racial discrimination they face there (June-November 2010 news including those @timesofinidaonline.com). I saw quite some comments and reactions by everyone because many family members, relatives commute and work in Indian cities like Delhi and Mumbai. So I started to send e-mails, to create a strong organization and put a stop to such crimes.
Then, came the news of women and children being trafficked and molested primarily by foreign aid seeking organizations in Chennai, south India as well as in several organizations. The usual story of a well paid job being promised located abroad- Bankok, China or in the nearby countries was mentioned in the news articles. Amazing to read that child soldiers were being recruited by various militants and the recruiters were being paid well for their jobs.
Then there are cases of vulgar pornographic Korean film clips being sent out to women and children by SMS mobile telephones. The internet without any censorship and more related films and materials, elevated such crimes and torture and violence against women continued.

Recent cases:

In one recent case, the daughter of one person was kidnapped, raped and mercilessly thrown out simply because the demands made to father were not met. Today you have heard this news of a Class-XI girl being raped and killed by strangulation. Post-partum reports are yet to be revealed as to whether the accused is the boyfriend or other men are involved. Even thou, news report suggest the accused is caught by the police, the reality still remains.
Are the police to be trusted or appropriately doing their duties- No comment? In one article news report indicated a women committed suicide because of harassment and teasing by a group of police commandoes. So how far can we trust the police?
In January 2010, a double rape and murder shook Imphal. The killing of Chanbi and her teenage daughter Menaka at Phayeng (Manipur) who were called out from their home in the evening by two men on the pretext of discussing something. Till date, even thou it might not have been too difficult of a task, who called them out that evening is not solved. While several organizations strongly condemned state government’s inaction in delivering justice to this double rape and murder case, no one has been booked for the double murder. She was a widow and left behind 3 small children.
On december 13, 2010 the nude dead body of an unidentified woman believed to be in her forties was found amongst ricestraw at a paddy field near Yaiphakol village, about 2 kms from Khuga dam. Entirely nude mercilessly killed, and blood seeping from her nose and mouth. Sources in the police said, they suspect she was done to death a night before.
The news media stated that there were no visible foot-prints available in the area surrounding the body, nor was there any trace of her clothing or any other substantial evidences. Again, the question here is what the forensics is doing here in this case, around the paddy field or near the dead body – in what way the autopsy helped here?. This was the second instance in three weeks wherein the dead body of a woman entirely in nude was discovered in the district. The lifeless body of a fifty-year old woman cashier with the DRDA was discovered nude stacked behind wooden pieces beneath her own residence on Nov 25. Authorities, according to news sources, detained her husband allegedly on suspicion over the murder.
Not only this, several murders took place, a mentally handicapped woman was found raped in her shop in the night.

Apex civil society organizations for women extended their support in many ways, agitation, Joint action Committees (JACs). But the outcome and agitation launched in connection with the incidents above did not change the trend and it continues to rise. Perhaps it is aging of armed persons- who knows that they cannot be caught striking again and again. Time to Wake up Manipur-! For the number of women murdered, there should be few days of demonstration and a statewide stir and shake up massive protest rally.

[box type=”quote” size=”small” color=”green” align=”right”]Few days back, news came out that millitants groups would buy properties in Guwahati and many other places in India in the name of their wives. The question is is the wife’s name being exploited, taken for granted or is this mere exploitation.[/box]

Questions:

The role of media in showing the dead bodies, delivering the news and the psychological impact it might have is largely ignored.
For state-of-art facilities of post partum, perhaps, time is to ask what kind of facility do we have ?
How many JACs are formed until date for how many unlawful deaths?
Internet/film censorship – where are we with this?
By no drastic steps steps being taken to book the killers of such ghastly crimes of rape/murders the number of killers is on the rise.

Role of government and police authority and why they will not resign- still a question at large ?

I would like to tribute this article to late Prof. Naorem Sanajoaba, noted human rights activist and intellect who was my aunts’ husband.

 

References:  kanglaonline, e-pao, sangai express, timesofindia, telegraphindia – Online Articles

[box type=”info” color=”green”]Usha Thiyam is a Social Activist Based in Germany[/box]

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