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Anti-repression day: Activists observe anniversary of protest by 12 women in Imphal

The protesters converged at the gate of the 17 Assam Rifles camp on July 14, 2004 demanding removal of the camp.

Human rights and social activists on Wednesday observed the anniversary of the protest by 12 intrepid women crusaders in Imphal city in 2004. The activists have been observing it as anti-repression day. The protest was held in the office of the Human Rights Alert at Kwakeithel near Imphal. In view of the coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, it was kept low key with minimum number of persons attending it.

The 12 women converged at the gate of the 17 Assam Rifles camp on July 14, 2004 and staged the protest — removing their clothes — demanding removal of the camp. They also displayed giant placards with the words “Indian army, rape us”.

Floral tributes

Those who had assembled on Wednesday paid floral tributes to two women activists who had died in the recent past.

On July 10, 2004 personnel of the 17 Assam Rifles had arrested a young girl Thangjam Manorama from her home at Bamon Kampu 5km from the city on the charge that she was an insurgent. Activists fear that she was gang-raped and shot dead. The official report was that while she was “leading a team of personnel to a place where arms and ammunition were stashed ...” she tried to run away ignoring the repeated warnings from the personnel. She was eventually gunned down. Her bullet-ridden body was deposited at the mortuary for post-mortem the next day.

Babloo Loitongbam, executive director of the Human Rights Alert said, “The intrepid women always come to fight all issues. They should leave their commitment, courage and dedication to the children.”

Sunil Karam, president of the United Committee Manipur which was formed for the protection of the ancient territory of Manipur, said, “The personnel of 17 Assam Rifles were removed from Kangla in Imphal because of the campaign by the women activists. The credit should not go to the Manipur government. Except for the shooting to death a pregnant woman, Ravina who was walking in the city with her 3-year-old son and another youth Sanjit at a different part of the city, the number of fake encounters has decreased in Manipur.”

Waging an unarmed war

The women have also been waging an unarmed war for the withdrawal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958. They say the Act gives untrammelled power to the security forces to commit reprehensible crimes on unarmed persons.

After the women’s 2004 protest, the 17 Assam Rifles camp was shifted from Imphal. The government lifted the AFSPA from seven Assembly segments on August 12 , 2004 in the Imphal Municipal Corporation areas. However, some armed groups ignored it. On August 14, 2004 some unidentified persons hurled hand grenades at a pandal of ISKCON where a Ras Lila dance was was being held killing six persons including a boy and injuring many.

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Printable version | Aug 4, 2020 5:55:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/anti-repression-day-activists-observe-anniversary-of-protest-by-12-women-in-imphal/article32093504.ece

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