Bad Media, AFSPA and Sharmila

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By Jinine Laishramcha

Irom Chanu was crying, and that looked like she was reluctant to place the honey on her tongue. She did not break the fast readily in front the jam-packed media. She took her time and kept crying. Then heard two female voices of non locals, possibly of outside-media persuading her in English “have it, have it, go for it” as if they feared Sharmila would not end her fasting.

Suddenly non local media are becoming very active on Manipur when Sharmila announced to end her hunger protest on 26 July 2016. That was the largest flock ever flying down to Imphal to prattle at the closing ceremony of Chanu’s 16 -year- long hunger strike. This media are of Indian mainstream and some are of international represented by same mainstream Indians whose noses have been very insensitive to the smell of newsworthy happenings in Manipur. They did not file stories when Sharmila started in early November 2000; they did nothing when she completed 365 days beating the 21-day-record of Mahatma Gandhi. They even hardly covered when Sharmila was in Delhi on some occasions. This time they did their fair share with Sharmila but not with the cause and concern she has been for.  They have detested themselves from needed din of the draconian AFSPA and state of militarization. They have been completely blind to the traumatized lives haunted by the section 4 and 6 of AFSPA which empowered military to kill us, destroy our properties anytime, and make us always handicapped to proceed for justice in law courts. They visibly demonstrate their true color; displaying active absence of bloody reality of AFSPA and militarization.

Now, the tone and texture of non-local media are galore with ostensible love and care for Sharmila; they shape headlines to show people of Manipur as all heartless rendering her homeless. They force us all to undergo colossal condemnation for what some of us have done towards our own sister.

First, they did misreporting saying that people opposed her decision to end the hunger strike. We all including Meira Paibis, civil societies and armed opposition groups acknowledge and salute Sharmila’s 16-year-sacrifice and none of us including armed opposition groups oppose the ending of her fasting. Second, she has changed, changed possibly after hobnobbing with suspects, her fiancé and state elements. Third, hence some of us refuse her to marry a suspect and contest election. It needs time to clear the clouds, and to apply commonsense –  state elements are always there and logically they are active to indoctrinate her.

In spite of this, local groups and youths continuously extend support and solidarity to Sharmila; they arrange shelter, visit every day, offer suitable foods, listen to her, design election campaign, etc.

The non-local media do not discuss the demerit of ever eroding domain of the non-violent form of protest. Need they spread out the message of importance of retaining Gandhi’s weapon? So now, in the eyes of Manipuris and Kashmiris logically more functional is of violence and vulgarity. She was forced to exit from beautiful domain that Gandhi kept, only because New Delhi closed the entrance. Why do the national media not make a talking point on this?

They may analyze questions from professor Akoijam Bimol – “What is ‘personal’ and what is ‘public’ about Irom Sharmila and/or what she does? Is Sharmila a public figure, someone who is involved in public issues or issues of public importance? Is AFSPA a private issue or a public issue? Is Sharmila a public figure, someone who is involved in public issues or issues of public importance? Is she a deified being who is above criticism?”

Many of the media really are trying to portray us in mean-minded frame. So, they zoom in on voices of some Manipuris who criticize Sharmila’s plan to marry an outsider. Here, we ought to tell them this, – If possible humanity in a borderless world is one super beautiful notion. But those governments, nations, groups of the planet who are big and powerful are real bellicose. The dominant minds and discriminatory hands make John Lennon’s “Imagine” impossible as of now.  Survival struggle for weaker peoples, tiny  groups is the most challenging reality amidst such gluttony world created and controlled by the cruel majority.

Again, just wondering why the outside media skip or belittle Herojit’s confession-story of fake encounter killings of 1528 lives in Manipur. They ignore easily that many of the killings were carried out by combined force of Indian army and Manipur police. All that gross human rights violations happened under such strong impunity of AFSPA where state police too began to embrace de-facto power of AFSPA.

In fact, we all know the non-local media can make meaningful and effective noises to end the era of militarization and inhuman legislation if they are fair enough towards justice and human rights happen in Manipur. But this flock are flying back home leaving all the brutes of draconian AFSPA to us.

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