The killing of Thangjam Ningol Manorama (32) in Manipur by the Indian Security Forces has provoked widespread condemnation and protest from the people of Manipur. There is much anger and discontent from the fact that the Indian Security Forces tortured and raped her before being shot, which went right through her vagina thereby causing extensive damage to her private parts. She was picked up by the Indian Security Forces at the wee hours of 11th July 2004 from her residence in front of all family members and locality.
Protest began by way of not accepting the dead body by the family members and local Meira Paibi Organisations demanding justice to the killing. This was followed by a public meeting of various social Organisations at the locality. These social Organisations which included many State Level Meira Paibee Organisations decided to launch a joint agitation against the beastly killing of Manorama. Twenty-six Social organizations, which was later increased to thirty two later called a 48-hour General Strike was from midnight of 12 July 2004 to Midnight of 14 July 2004. People in large numbers came out to streets during the General strike protesting the killings. Many Government Offices was burnt down during the General Strike. The effigies of the Indian Prime Minister Manmohon Singh, Home Minister Shivaraj Patil and Manipur Chief Minister O. Ibobi were burnt by the angry protesters during the protest. These organizations later called for a mass action programme on 16th July 2004 in the form of mass submission of memorandum. People were to converge at the capital from four points and submit memorandum en-masse to the Chief Minister of Manipur, Governor of Manipur and D.I.G Assam Rifles. Press Information Bureau (Defense Wing) made an attempt to subdue the protest by publishing information that Manorama was a member of People´s Liberation Army (PLA), the armed wing of Revolutionary People´s Front (RPF) which is an Armed Resistance Group of Manipur fighting for the Independence of Manipur. But the protest continued.
On 15 July 2004, while many sit-in-protests are going on at various parts of Manipur, 12 women belonging to various Social Organisations came to the Gate of Kangla and protested naked in front of the Kangla Gate. Kangla is the former Capital City of Manipur which was occupied by the British Forces after the defeat of Manipur by the British in 1891. The occupation of the Kangla by the Indian Security Forces continued after her annexation to the Dominion of India in 1949. At present Kangla Fort is occupied by the personnel of 17 Assam Rifles whose personnel were responsible for the brutal Killing of Manorama. Daring the Indian Army to rape them also, the women protester raised many slogans against the Indian Security Protests. This protest by women has exposed the hidden part of the repression in Manipur- using Rape as a repressive weapon by the Indian Security Forces. Sentiments were further heightened by this protest. And the Government imposed indefinite curfew in the Greater Imphal areas with Shoot-at-Sight orders in order to suppress further protest.
On 16th July, a large number of women defied curfew and came out to streets battling the rubber bullets and tear gas of the security forces and submitted memorandum demanding (1) the immediate arrest and prosecution of the Personnel of the 17 Assam Rifles responsible for the raping and brutal killing of Km.Thangjam Manorama, (2) the immediate stop to the systematic and genocidal killing of the Manipuri People, (3)The immediate withdrawal of the 17 Assam Rifles in particular and the Indian Army in general who have been committing genocidal killings against the people of Manipur and (4) the removal of the draconian "Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958" with the immediate revocation of the Disturbed Areas Status for the whole of Manipur. Women encircled the Offices of District Commissioners and the camps of Assam Rifles at various Parts of Manipur battling the Police, Paramilitary and Army. More than hundred women protesters suffered injuries in the protest on this day. Further alarmed by the continuing protests, the Government imposed Curfew in other parts of the State. The organizations spearheading the agitation have announced the continuation of the protest by way of defying the Curfew and organizing of Sit-in-Protests at various parts of Manipur. Women have come out in large numbers defying curfew battling the rubber bullets and tear gas shells and staging sit in protests in large numbers at various locations. Security Forces inflicted injuries to many protestors while trying to foil the sit-in-protests.
The Government has undertaken extreme measures to stifle the voice of the people by curtailing the democratic right to protest. At present, lacs of people have been kept virtually under house arrest for more than 48 hours with the clamping of curfew with shoot-at-sight orders. Security Forces have used tear gas shelling even to the residential buildings. Educational institutions, markets and all the working places are closed. People have not been allowed even to procure the essential items. Even the media have not been spared. Local Cable TV networks were forced to discontinue the news services for giving coverage to the ongoing agitation. Many journalists covering the agitation were harassed by the security forces. Manipur was already reeling under economic hardship with the Government unable to pay salary to the employees for the last three months. This along with the lack of employment opportunities in a virtually captive-market economy has caused a vicious cycle of underdevelopment in Manipur. People of Manipur as a result is facing a lot of hardship despite of rich natural and human resources favoured by a good climate.
On the other side, there is stepping up of Militarisation. Government has increased spending on Police and Security measures even while basic infrastructures in health, education and communications are lacking in many parts of the State. A large number of Indian Security Forces, Army as well as Paramilitary Forces are deployed against the civilians. These Security Forces enjoy the licence to kill with impunity under the provisions of the draconian Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA). The basic and fundamental Human Right of Right to Life is denied by this draconian law despite of the fact that various International Covenants and Municipal Laws guarantee this fundamental right. This draconian law of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 has the colonial legacy in the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Ordinance promulgated by the British Government in 1942.
The whole of Manipur has been kept virtually under emergency for the past twenty-four years since 1980 when all of Manipur has been covered by this Act. The whole of Manipur has been declared as disturbed since 1980 under the provisions of AFSPA and thereby deploying Army and Paramilitary Forces against the whole people of Manipur for the past many years. Empowered by the provisions of this act, various heinous crimes and many acts of atrocities have been committed against the people of Manipur by the Indian Security Forces under active patronage of successive Governments. Custodial killings, forced disappearances, raping of women, sodomy, collective fines, mass killings and various forms of torture are what the people of Manipur have received as a gift of the Indian Parliamentary Democracy.
People have Manipur have consistently raised their voices against the draconian AFSPA and State Repression. Rallies, demonstrations, sit-in-protests, hunger strikes, court battles and organizing protests and agitations are what people of Manipur have been doing for the past many years. Women organized as Meira Paibees have been keeping vigil of their respective localities against the Indian Security Forces for the whole night for the past many years. They face the rifle butts, boots grenades and bullets of the Security Forces to save those unfortunate ones who have become the target of the Security Forces. These Meira Paibees raise their voice against the Human Rights Violations and AFSPA and thus fight the State repression heroically.
In one of the strongest protests against State Repression in recent times, the Meira Paibees are spearheading the present agitation by the people of Manipur. The protest has come after a series of custodial killings by the Indian Security Forces. They are now defying curfew, thrown away all their modesty for the sake of fighting for justice. They demand no less than the punishment of the guilty security personnel, removal of the AFSPA and stop to the ongoing State Repression. What they demand is peace with justice. They yearn for a peaceful democratic society free from all forms of State Repression.
Time has come now that all progressive organizations and individuals to give their solidarity to the ongoing struggle by the people of Manipur. You are requested to send your solidarity message to the people of Manipur through the editors of local dailies and cable TV networks. I am enclosing the list of editors of the local newspapers with their mailing addresses.
1. Sh. Gopal Sharma, Editor, the Poknapham daily, e-mail:- firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Hijam Rajesh, Editor, The Sangai Express daily, e-mail:- email@example.com
3. S. Bharat Busan, Editor, Hueiyen Lanpao daily, e-mail :- firstname.lastname@example.org
4. S. Ibochouba, Editor, Matamgi Yakairol daily, email :- email@example.com
5. Kh. Loyalakpa, Editor, Naharolgi Thoudang daily, e-mail:- firstname.lastname@example.org
6. Sarat Khaidem, Editor, Mannaba daily, e-mail:- email@example.com
7. A. Mobi, Editor, Sanaleibak daily, e-mail :- firstname.lastname@example.org
8. Pradip Phanjaobam , Editor, Free Press daily, e-mail :- email@example.com
I have the confidence that the people of Manipur will definitely receive your solidarity message.
Imphal the 17th July 2004
President, All Manipur United Club´s Organisation (AMUCO)