When social media is celebrating Mother's Day in various ways, few still remember a group of mothers who made a whole lot of difference in the history of Manipur.
30 women bared themselves at the gate of 17 Assam Rifles (Kangla gate), fighting for justice for 32 year old Thangjam Manorama who was brutally killed by the personnel allegedly for being a terrorist.
Thangjam Manorama aka Henthoi of Bamon Kampu was picked up from her house by the security personnel and killed percilessly after being raped. Her corpse was thrown in the field.
Demanding justice for her and seeking the custody of the culprits, the women brewed up a storm that did not know any barrier. Policement who were rushed to the spot did not know how to deal with the situation as the women had bared all.
"Army Rape us and kill is" was the slogan they raised, shaking the plinth of Indian democracy and demanding an answer for their woes. The AFSPA Act was offered to be reviewed by the then UPA government, but it was turned down by the Manipuri women.
While the Act is revoked, the struggle for justice is still on!
What is the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) Act?
Considered to be a controversial piece of legislation, the Act confers tremendous powers to the Armed Forces deployed in "disturbed areas" in the country.
Among the "disturbed areas" were 12 districts in Arunachal Pradesh bordering Assam, Tripura. However, they were revoked, only to tigger another attack by militants on a military convoy, which left 18 soldiers dead and 11 injured. This is considered among the deadliest militant attack on the Army in over three decades.
A debate started whether to revoke it or not. Hopes were dashed after the military attack an the ministry said, "The situation in the Northeast remains turbulent and merits AFSPA being kept in place there."
Drawing from a draconian ordinance the British colonial rulers who used it during the Quit India Movement of 1942, the Indian Parliament enacted AFSPA in September 1958 in the context of the nascent Naga insurgency.
The AFSPA grants the army, the central police forces, and state police personnel in "disturbed areas" with special powers including right to shoot to kill, raid houses, destroy any property that may be used by the insurgents and to arrest without warrant even on "reasonable suspicion" a person who has committed or even "about to commit a cognizable offence."
They also grant them immunity from prosecution, sattaing, "No prosecution, suit or other legal proceeding shall be instituted except with the previous sanction of the Central government against any person".
While the debate to revoke it is still on, the mothers who fought for Manorama still wait outside the gates of justice.