IMPHAL, February 22: “Flirt with AFSPA if at all you must, but forget not the sanitary napkins to avoid public gaze,” commented former head of Philosophy Department and Dean of Humanities, Manipur University Soyam Lokendrajit today.
He was delivering the keynote address during an international seminar “Multitude and Democracy: New Perspectives at the court hall, Manipur University organised by the Philosophy department and sponsored by Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), Norway.
Speaking on “Democracy and State of Exception: Is AFSPA in Manipur Eternal?” he said violence and corruption today constitute the very meaning of ‘democracy’ in Manipur.
Fake encounters, custodial deaths, racial discriminatory killings, killing en masses by the security forces, rape, disappearance, kidnapping and intimidation constitute, what Heidegger in his book calls ‘everydayness’, in Manipur, he said.
Lokendrajit observed in Manipur, people have been conditioned to live with AFSPA, as the draconian Act continues despite Irom Chanu Sharmila’s 15 years and continuing fast and other forms of agitations from other CSOs including the nude protest in front of the Kangla gate against the Act.
He said considering this, a reasonable answer to the Supreme Court’s query “Is AFSPA in Manipur eternal?” seems to be “So long as you remain a part of India and yet not considered a mainlander, learn to live with AFSPA.”
Further speaking on the state-violence, he asserted that head constable Herojit’s confession of having shot Sanjit, an unarmed civilian in public, on the order of a superior officer who indicated command chains as high as DGP and Manipur State Chief Minister consenting to the execution unfolds a rare phenomenon of state violence.
He said that people of North East are threatened as never before but now it is time for the people to come together and shape their own destiny.
He opined the seminar be a wakeup call for all the people.
Vice Chancellor of Manipur University H Nandakumar Sarma in his inaugural speech of the international seminar said that the topic is very relevant in the North East region.
People living in the State are facing tremors under AFSPA, he observed and expressed his belief that such international seminar will help bring a solution to the problem.
The seminar was segmented into two sessions.
The first session titled ‘States and Multitudes’ was chaired by Peace Research Institute Oslo Ashild Kolas while Konsam Romabati, Philosophy Department, MU was present as a discussant.
Rebecca Bryant, London School of Economics, UK made a presentation on the topic ‘The De Facto State’; Glenn Bowman, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK talked on the topic ‘Israel and Palestine: The One State Solution’; Mete Hatay, PRIO Cyprus Centre, Cyprus spoke on the topic ‘Fantasizing Federalism in Cyprus’; L Bishwanath Sharma, Manipur University spoke on the topic ‘Ethnic Polarization in Manipur’; and Sang Hnin Lian from Mahidol University of Thailand talked on the topic ‘The Look East Policy and Burmese Refugees in India’.
The Second session with the title ‘The Good, the Bad and Democracy’ was chaired by Soyam Lokendrajit, Philosophy Department of Manipur University and Ngahpi Lhouvum, Philosophy Department, Manipur University was present as discussant.
Ola Tunander, PRIO spoke during the second session on ‘Democracy and the Dual State’; Pedro Ibarra Guell, University of the Basque Country, Spain on ‘Democracy, Nations and New Collectivities’; Ashild Kolas, PRIO on ‘Multitude vs Empire’; Bengt G Karlsson, Stockholm University, Sweden on ‘Possibilities for Joint Action in Northeast India’ and Th Shantilata Devi of Manipur University on the topic ‘Gandhi, Village Swaraj and Grassroot Democracy in Manipur’.