Six years ago, on July 15,2004 Manorama mothers surprised and shocked the world.
Sapan Aruna writes:
In the morning at around 10:15 am, Twelve women out of nowhere, stormed at the western gate of the 17th Assam Rifles Kangla and in an unprecedented act, of protest shed their clothes and challenged the security forces to rape them. Facing the AR gate with their bare bodies, they shouted to the Assam Rifles, “If you really have the craze to rape, come rape us’
They raised banners where was written in bold letters, “INDIAN ARMY RAPE US,’ INDIAN ARMY TAKE OUR FLESH.”
More than 50 women from different women’s organizations of Manipur came from G.M.Hall and among them, 12 naked bodies marched on to the Kangla gate and cried against the killing of Manorama , “You dogs of AR! Come rape us like you raped meitei chanu (women) Manorama”.
They wailed. They shouted, “We are all mothers of Manorama. We stand for our daughter Manorama. Come fulfill your lust. Play on our body. Eat our flesh. Come Indian Army. They continued their complaint against AFSPA with slogans, GO BACK INDIAN ARMY. Withdraw the Armed Forces Special Power Act 1958 from Manipur!
Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has been imposed in Manipur and most of the Northeast since 1980. The Act allows the army to use force, arrest or shoot anyone on the mere suspicion that someone has committed or was about to commit a cognisable offence. The Act further prohibits any legal or judicial proceedings against army personnel without the sanction of the Central GovernmentThe protest of the women continued for about 45 minutes. Due to excessive emotion, more than half of them fell unconscious. Being surprised, some AR personnel watched the scene dumbfounded. They stood spell-bound. The scene broke the heart of the passers by. People even shed tears and closed their eyes.
There was no policeman when the women protesters sprang from no-where and staged their tear-provoking scene. Some minutes later, police officials along with Imphal west SP scolded the police officers for there were no women police. Disregarding the polices effort to carry the fainted women, the protesters used private vehicles to take them to hospitals. The women then tried to launch the same protest in front of the Chief Minister Bangaloo. Police arrested some of the protesters and dropped them at the gate of the office of the All Manipur Women Social Reformation and Development Samaj (AMWSRDS) situated at the palace gate.
As precautionary measures to control the possible drastic situations, the Manipur Government imposed indefinite curfew from 11am of the same day in Imphal East and West district. The D.C. Imphal West also issued orders under section 19 of The Cable Television Network Regulation Act, 1995, prohibiting the transmission of any particular program including news items.
That was an unexpected consequence of the custodial murder of Thangjam Manorama after rape."But justice is likely to wait forever.