Guwahati, March 22: Northeast India is a far-off land and frankly, 'mainland' India does not care much about the "landlocked" region of the country. The region makes news only when it is hit by some "terror" strike or by a natural calamity. Recently, the Northeast was in the news because of the Assembly elections in three of its states--Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya.
While Sikkim was added to the region 15 years ago, otherwise the Northeast is popularly known as the "seven sisters" consisting of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura.
It is heartening to see a popular comedian from a well-established group talking about the region with such sensitivity and knowledge, which otherwise is missing from any of our popular discourse.
Stand-up comic Azeem Banatwalla in the latest East India Comedy Outrage video has decided to take up the contentious issue of the draconian Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) which is in place in several parts of the region and Jammu and Kashmir.
Like Kashmir, the Northeast too wants the repeal of AFSPA from the region. The Act was passed by Parliament in 1958 which grants special powers to the Indian armed forces in areas deemed "disturbed" by the Act.
Talking against the Act is not an easy task in today's times because of the rise of "hyper-nationalism" in the country. After watching the video, we not only appreciate how Banatwalla and his team took the trouble to explain about finer details of the region to an audience which is unlikely to have any understanding about the Northeast, but also made it a point to ask for the repeal of the Act.
Human rights activist Irom Sharmila will definitely give full marks to Banatwalla and his colleagues for raising the issue. Sharmila was on a 16-year long fast demanding the repeal of the draconian Act till 2016.
Watch the video if you love Northeast or want to know more about the obscure but beautiful land of India: