Vidur Acting Institute Spreads Across India …… Almost !!


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MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           MARCH 27, 2016           08.25 P.M.

Vidur Acting Institute Spreads Across India …….. Almost!! Is it narcissistic? Is it megalomania? Some will yell, yes! But here are the reason and facts.

Few days back, I was posting a greeting for the people of Mizoram on the occasion of Chapchar Kut. I always write, ” To all my students, friends & well-wishers ……. ” I suddenly realised that I have yet to get an acting student from Mizoram. I started counting. Then I realised that apart from Mizoram, I don’t have any student from Arunachal Pradesh either.

Political Map of India

Political Map of India

At this point of time there are 29 states in the Republic of India. They are : ANDHRA PRADESH //  ARUNACHAL PRADESH // ASSAM // BIHAR // CHHATTISGARH // GOA // GUJARAT // HARYANA // HIMACHAL PRADESH // JAMMU & KASHMIR // JHARKHAND // KARNATAKA // KERALA // MADHYA PRADESH // MAHARASHTRA // MANIPUR // MEGHALAYA // MIZORAM // NAGALAND // ODISHA // PUNJAB // RAJASTHAN // SIKKIM // TAMIL NADU // TELANGANA // TRIPURA // UTTAR PRADESH // UTTARAKHAND // WEST BENGAL

Out of 29 states of India, I have got and trained students from 27 states.  Only 2 states; ARUNACHAL PRADESH & MIZORAM are still out of my reach.

ONLY TWO [ 02 ] out of TWENTY NINE [ 29 ] !!

Therefore I titled the blog – “Vidur Acting Institute Spreads Across India …… Almost!!”

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Location of Arunachal Pradesh in the Map of India

Location of Arunachal Pradesh in the Map of India

ARUNACHAL PRADESH, one of the twenty-nine states of the Republic of India , borders Assam and Nagaland to the south, and shares international borders with Bhutan in the west, Burma in the east and Tibet in the north. Itanagar is the capital of the state.

Formerly called the North-East Frontier Agency, [ NEFA ] , was ceded to Britain by the Tibetan government with the Simla Accord (1914).

NEFA was renamed as Arunachal Pradesh on 20 January 1972 and it became a Union Territory. Arunachal Pradesh became a state on 20 February 1987.

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Location of Mizoram in the Map of India

Location of Mizoram in the Map of India

MIZORAM is one of the 8 states of Northeast India, with Aizawl as its capital. It is the southern most landlocked state sharing borders with three of the Eight sister states, namely Tripura, Assam, Manipur. The state also shares a 722 kilometer border with the neighbouring countries of Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Like several other northeastern states of India, Mizoram was previously part of Assam until 1972, when it was carved out as a Union Territory. It became the 23rd state of India on 20 February 1987.

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Apart from 2 above mentioned states, I have yet to get students from 3 Union Territories. They are : DADRA & NAGAR HAVELI // DAMAN & DIU // LAKSHADWEEP

At this point of time there are 7 Union Territories in the  Republic of India. They are : ANDAMAN & NICOBAR ISLANDS // CHANDIGARH // DADRA & NAGAR HAVELI // DAMAN & DIU // LAKSHADWEEP // NCR DELHI // PUDUCHERRY

I have trained actors from 4 of the 7 UTs. Only 3 remain. They are; DADRA & NAGAR HAVELI // DAMAN & DIU // LAKSHADWEEP

ONLY THREE [ 03 ] out of SEVEN [ 07 ] !!

Therefore I titled the blog – “Vidur Acting Institute Spreads Across India …… Almost!!”

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Location of Daman & Diu in the Map of India

Location of Daman & Diu in the Map of India

DAMAN & DIU : For over 450 years, the coastal enclaves of Daman (Portuguese: Damão) and Diu on the Arabian Sea coast were part of Portuguese India, along with Goa and Dadra and Nagar Haveli. Goa, Daman and Diu were incorporated into the Republic of India on December 19, 1961, by military conquest. Portugal did not recognise the Indian annexation of these territories until 1974.

The territory of “Goa, Daman and Diu” was administered as a single union territory until 1987. Then Goa was granted statehood, leaving Daman and Diu as a separate union territory.

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Location of Dadra & Nagar Haveli in the Map of India

Location of Dadra & Nagar Haveli in the Map of India

DADRA & NAGAR HAVELI is a Union Territory in Western India. Nagar Haveli is wedged between Maharashtra and Gujarat, whereas Dadra is an enclave surrounded by Gujarat. The shared capital is Silvassa.

Dadra and Nagar Haveli map in pink colour depicting the Gujarati enclave village of Maghval in grey colour.

Maghval is a small enclave village belonging to Gujarat that is located within Nagar Haveli, just south of Silvassa in Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

The Portuguese occupied Nagar Haveli on 10 June 1783 on the basis of Friendship Treaty executed on 17 December 1779 as compensation towards damage to the Portuguese frigate by Maratha Navy. Then, in 1785 the Portuguese purchased Dadra.

Under the Portuguese rule or the Estado da Índia (Portuguese State of India) Dadra & Nagar Haveli formed a single concelho (municipality), named “Nagar Haveli”, with its head in Darará until 1885 and, after that, with its head in the town of Silvassa.

After India attained Independence in 1947, the residents of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, with the help of volunteers of organisations, subtracted the territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli from Portuguese India in 1954.

In 1961 when Indian forces took over Goa, Daman, and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli was also merged with the Republic of India.

On 31 December 1974 a treaty was signed between India and Portugal on recognition of India’s sovereignty over Goa, Daman, Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

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Location of Lakshadweep in the Map of India

Location of Lakshadweep in the Map of India

LAKSHADWEEP : formerly known as the Laccadive, Minicoy, and Aminidivi Islands is a group of islands in the Laccadive Sea, 200 to 440 kilometres off the south-western coast of India. The archipelago is a Union Territory and is governed by the Union Government of India. The islands form the smallest Union Territory of India: their total surface area is just 32 km2 (12 sq mi). Kavaratti serves as the capital of the Union Territory and the region comes under the jurisdiction of Kerala High Court.

In the 16th century the Portuguese took control of the archipelago but the islanders expelled them in 1545. In the 17th century, the islands came under the rule of Ali Rajahs /Arakkal Bheevi of Kannur, who received them as a gift from the Kolathiris.

The Aminidivi group of islands (Androth, Amini, Kadmat, Kiltan, Chetlath and Bitra) came under the rule of Tipu Sultan in 1787. They passed to British control after the Third Anglo-Mysore War and were attached to South Canara. The rest of the islands came under the suzerainty of the Arakkal family of Cannanore in return for a payment of annual tribute. The British took over the administration of those islands for non-payment of arrears. These islands were attached to the Malabar district of the Madras Presidency during the British Raj.

In 1956, during the reorganization of Indian states, the Lakshadweep islands were organized into a separate union territory for administrative purposes.

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Political Map of India

Political Map of India

It is a proud moment for me. It is very satisfying for any acting institute. I feel blessed that out of 36 states and Union Territories of my country, I have trained students from 31. Only 05 still remain out of my reach.

STATES : ONLY TWO [ 02 ] remain out of TWENTY NINE [ 29 ] !! [ ARUNACHAL PRADESH & MIZORAM ]

UNION TERRITORIES : ONLY THREE [ 03 ] remain out of SEVEN [ 07 ] !! [ DADRA & NAGAR HAVELI // DAMAN & DIU // LAKSHADWEEP ]

INDIA : ONLY FIVE [ 05 ] remain out of THIRTY SIX [ 36 ] !!

Therefore I titled the blog – “Vidur Acting Institute Spreads Across India …… Almost!!”

 

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[  Information about states & Union Territories have been taken from Wikipedia. I express gratitude. ]

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Bru Tribe : Refugee In Their Own Country


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MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           MARCH 07, 2014           00.30 A.M.

Frankly speaking , few weeks back , I was unaware of the existence of Bru tribe of Mizoram . Years ago I had read about some conflict between Mizos of Mizoram and one particular tribe living there , near Bangla Desh and Tripura border . I knew that these days that particular tribe live in Tripura in exile. But apart from that I have not heard anything about Brus . When last week I read a couple of articles in Times of India and Hindustan Times , I came to know that the tribe in question is Bru and they are living in tents as refugee in their own country since 17 years.

The roots of the conflict can be traced to 1994, when a political party called the Bru National Union (BNU) was formed to promote the tribe’s welfare. In September 1997, at a conference in Saipuilui village in Mamit district, the BNU adopted a resolution to demand for an Autonomous District Council (ADC) for Brus in the western belt of Mizoram. Mizoram is predominantly inhabited by Mizos. Other tribes in the state include the Hmars, the Lai and the Chakmas, each of whom have their own ADC. Interestingly, though the Brus are the largest minority in Mizoram their demand for an ADC went unheeded. “What was wrong with that demand?” asks Elvis Chorkhy, chairman of the Bru Coordination Committee that has been working with the government to repatriate the Brus. “ Was it so unconstitutional as to lead to the physical torture and harassment of the Brus ?”

The bloody ethnic clashes of 1997 displaced  over 4000 Brus initially . They fled to neighbouring Assam and Tripura’s sleepy town of Kanchanpur , which lies about 45 km from the Mizoram border. 17 years ago, thousands of Brus fleeing attacks from Mizos took refuge here. Many crossed the border on foot. The displaced Brus put up temporary shelters on the lower tracts of the Jampui hills that separate Tripura from Mizoram and Bangladesh. Today, there are over 35,000 Internally Displaced Persons languishing in the seven camps spread over the region. Here, scores live amidst filth and human waste with small mountain streams being the only source of drinking water. The incident, like many others in the North East India , hardly made it to the national media , print and electronic both .

https://i0.wp.com/www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2014/2/india-maps.jpg

[………The Map of Mizoram showing Bru Dominated Areas & Area of Bru Refugee Camps in Tripura ]

To know more about the Bru tribe , I checked Wikipedia and came to know a fascinating history about them . I am reproducing the Wikipedia article in verbatim .

The history of Bru (Reangs)

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The Bru are the second most populous tribe of Tripura after the Tripuris. According to the legend, a Tripuri prince who was once exiled by the King made his way, along with his followers, to the Mayani Thalang area of Lushai hills [ now Mizoram ] and founded a state over there. He proclaimed himself King and his descendants too ruled over the break-away state for generations. As it sometimes happens, there came a time when there was no heir to succeed to the throne, leading to anarchy in the kingdom. At around the same time, bitter feud and internal vendetta saw four chiefs of the following sub tribes Twikluha, Yongsika, Paisika, Tuibruha leave their hearth and home along with their entourages to migrate back to the state of Tripura. It was a long and difficult journey, fraught with danger and the travellers had to make more than a couple of attempts before they successfully made their way up the Dombur hill.

At the time, Mahendra Manikya ruled the kingdom of Tripura. The chiefs made many attempts to reach the King to request asylum. They approached ministers, bureaucrats, and courtiers for help in arranging a meeting with the King but with no success. By this time, they had exhausted their supplies and were rather anxious to catch the attention of the King. Finally in desperation, they breached the dam on the river Gumti where worshippers had gathered for prayers. This was a serious crime and all of them were immediately apprehended and brought before the king. The crime was a serious one and merited capital punishment. But before the King could pass his judgement, the chiefs managed to send word to the Queen Gunoboti. They begged her for help and she persuaded the King to forgive them. The chiefs swore fealty to the Queen and to the throne of Tripura and settled down in the Kingdom. Popular legend has it that the Queen even offered the chiefs breast milk, to symbolize their new parent-child relationship, in a large brass pan which was gifted to the chiefs along with other valuable things, carefully preserved by Reangs till date.

The latest episode in the ongoing conflict between Mizos and Brus came on November 23 , 2013 . It was two days before the Mizoram assembly elections, when Bru militants allegedly belonging to the Bru Democratic Front of Mizoram (BDFM) and helped by members of the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) abducted three young men.

The incident reignited the long-standing conflict between the Mizos and the minority Brus . Enraged by the abduction of the Mizos, several protests spearheaded mostly by the powerful NGOs MZP and the Young Mizo Association (YMA) were organised throughout the state. Subsequently, local village headmen were threatened with dire consequences if they did not ask the militants to release the Mizos.

In modern Mizoram one can find the Mizo mindset about Bru tribe in a Mizoram Home department letter sent to National Human Rights Commission . In the letter dated February 10, the Home department of the Mizoram government listed the reasons that led to the original conflict between the Mizos and the Brus. According to the document, the Brus — recognised as Reangs as per the Constitution (Schedule Tribes) Order, 1950 — fled persecution in the erstwhile Tippera kingdom (now divided between Tripura and Bangladesh) to arrive in Mizoram in the early 1940s. “Brus have always been outsiders and can never be a part of the larger Mizo culture,” says Lalmuanpuia Punte, who was MZP’s president in 1997.

The Mizos say the Bru exodus of 1997 can be traced to a ‘circular’ signed by Bruno Msha, who was then the Bru Student Union president and is currently the general secretary of the Mizoram Bru Displaced Peoples’ Forum (MBDPF). Dated March 1998, the ‘circular’ asks all Bru headmen to evacuate their villages and leave Mizoram because of a possible clash between Bru militants and Mizoram security personnel. Msha, who denies signing any such document, claims the story is a Mizo attempt to blame Bru militants for the exodus.

Each side might apportion blame to the other but ultimately, the ethnic violence of 1997 pushed many Brus into relief camps in a remote part of Tripura that borders Mizoram and Bangladesh.

Things, however, continue to look bleak for over 35,000 people still stuck in the forgotten camps of Tripura. A report by the Asian Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Network says ‘The ration quota is so inadequate that Brus do not report deaths as it means a further reduction of the rations’. The abject conditions and the lack of employment and education have made the camps a good recruiting ground for militants. Many young Brus have missed out on education and cannot even get job cards under central government schemes. “This is why we are asking for a Primitive Group Program and a development council which will look after the upliftment of the community once it is repatriated,” says Bruno Msha of the MBDPF.

Adults get a cash dole of Rs. 150 per month and 600 gms of rice per day while minors get half that amount. This is much less than other internally displaced groups like the Kashmiri Pandits and even the Sri Lankan refugees in Tamil Nadu have received in the past. Leaders of the MBDPF maintain that unless compensation is increased, no one will go back. Both the home department and Mizo organisations, allege that any attempts at repatriation are foiled by the staging of untoward incidents. The Bru side alleges that it is a conspiracy by Mizos who don’t want Brus to return. With only 5,627 people rehabilitated until last October, the Mizoram government has a mammoth task on its hands. “It has become necessary to remove those camps and resettle the displaced. We are losing precious time and a generation of kids is losing their future. The process needs to be expedited,” said Chorkhy.

But who cares? Mizoram government of Indian National Congress is heartless . National media is silent . National parties are ignorant . Few thousand Brus are insignificant for electoral arithmetic . So these hapless citizens of India are languishing in refugee camps . They are homeless in their own homeland .

According to me Bharatiya Janata Party should do something for these children of lesser God . It may not help electorally , but it is a national cause . A whole generation of Brus are getting deprived of their rights . We must stand for them . Politics is one thing , humanity is something else .

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On behalf of all the students and staff of VIDUR Acting Institute , I express my solidarity with the Bru tribe , who , like Kashmiri Pandits , are refugee in their own country .

VIDUR Editing Studio , VIDUR Club and VIDUR Theatre would also like to express solidarity with them . We wish their speedy rehabilitation .

[ This blog is not written by me in toto . I have taken excerpts from Wikipedia and quoted from the articles published in Times of India and Hindustan Times and simply re-arranged and re-produced those articles here . I express my gratitude . Views expressed about Brus are mine . ]

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Irom Sharmila’s 11 Years v/s Anna Hazare’s 12 Days


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA             SEPTEMBER 06, 2011           08.30 P.M.

I am all for eradication of corruption. And if Anna Hazare is spear-heading a movement and went for a 12 days fast for the cause , it is a welcome sign and it should get wholehearted support of the nation and people. Government of the day and the parliament took cognizance of his endeavour and parliamentarians cutting across party line went into huddle and passed the resolution for the Lokpal bill , as was demanded by Team Anna . Vilas Rao Deshmukh , a central minister , was dispatched to the Ramlila ground with the letter of the Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh , informing him that the resolution is passed by the parliament and that he should now break his fast. Very next day Ana Hazare ended his fast and the nation was relieved.

I fail to understand the mindset of our national and regional parties. If Anna’s fast can galvanize whole nation and everyone was concerned for his life, why this concern is not shown to Irom Sharmila Chanu , 38 , who is fasting since November 02 , 2000. She stopped eating when Assam Rifles troopers , while chasing militants , killed 10 villagers at Malom village . She was subsequently arrested and now being force – fed through a nasal tube in a hospital. It is now 11 year-long hunger strike and no one is concerned. The central government , political parties of all hue and colours , the electronic and print media , the intellectuals and conscience – keepers of our country and various NGOs , working in different sectors , all , either ignored her or didn’t show concern . National Human Rights Commission [ NHRC ] and National Commission for Women [ NCW ] are intriguingly silent too . Why ? Is it because she hails from North East India or more precisely from Manipur ? is her life not precious enough ? Is she a child of a lesser God ? Is she not even a speck in the scheme of the nation called India ?

Irom Sharmila Chanu

Irom Sharmila Chanu

India’s neglected North East Region and our so-called love for our motherland is a conundrum. Assam , Arunachal Pradesh , Meghalaya , Nagaland , Manipur ,Tripura and Mizoram are called 7 sisters and they are part of  North East India. Now Sikkim is also  part of the North East and should be included in the group . This makes total 8 provinces in the region.

Political boundary of Assam in the 1950s.

Political boundary of Assam in the 1950s.

Apart from Assam , two other provinces of North East ; Manipur and Tripura were in existence even at the time of independence . Later on Nagaland was created in 1963 and finally in 1972 during Indira Gandhi‘s tenure Arunachal Pradesh , Meghalaya and Mizoram came into existence and thus 7 sisters were born. Sikkim also became a part of India in 1975 during Indira Gandhi’s tenure.

Map of the Seven Sister States of North East India & Sikkim

Map of the Seven Sister States of North East India & Sikkim

NAGALAND :

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Soon after independence , people in Nagaland and Mizoram started agitation for independence. Armed struggle is being carried on since then. The Nagas were the first one to demand a sovereign nation for Nagas. Their leader Angami Zapu Phizo formed Naga National Council and on August 14, 1947 started armed struggle for independent Nagalim. In 1963 central government gave statehood to Nagaland as the 16th state of Indian Union and started peace talks. In 1980 National Socialist Council of Nagalim was formed by T. Muivah , Isak Swu and S. Khaplang and they are still fighting in Nagaland , though now they are devided into two separate factions.; NSCN [ I – M ] and NSCN [ Khaplang ] . So far more than 25,000 lives have been lost in the bloody struggle of Nagaland.

MIZORAM :

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Laldenga and his Mizo National Front waged war for independence in Mizoram. In 1986 after the Mizo Accord, though,  insurgency ended but Hmar People’s Convention – Democratic and The Bru National Liberation Front have kept the flame alive.

MEGHALAYA :

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Meghalaya , though , relatively peaceful have two organizations fomenting trouble . They are ; The Achik National Volunteer Council formed in 1995 for an Achik Land in Garo Hills and  The Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council formed in 1992 to free state from Garo and non – tribal Indian domination.

TRIPURA :

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At the end of 1970 several insurgent groups emerged in Tripura and started fight for the safeguard of tribal rights and end of the dominance of Bengalis from mainland India. Main among them are : National Liberation Front of Tripura formed in 1989 and All Tripura Tigers Force formed in 1990 .

ASSAM :

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The biggest state of North East India is troubled because of porous borders with Bangladesh . Anti – foreign agitation of 1980 spawned many insurgent groups in Assam. Main among them are : United Liberation Front of Asom formed in 1979 to establish a sovereign , independent Assam , National Democratic Front of Bodoland formed in 1989 to establish autonomous region of Bodoland , Karbi Longri N.C. Hills Liberation Front  formed in 2004 to fight for the cause of Karbi tribes and United People’s Democratic Solidarity formed in 1999 to fight for self-rule of Karbi trbes of Karbi Anglong. At present Assam is the most disturbed state of North East.

MANIPUR :

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State of Meiteis , who are Vaishnavites by faith , is also troubled and it started when some Naga organizations gave call to include Naga inhabited areas of Manipur into Greater Nagaland. Most important insurgent group of Manipur is Peoples Liberation Army formed in 1978 with the sole aim of liberating Manipur from India . The second one ; United National Liberation Front was created in 1964 and it also demands independence . Third important group ; Peoples Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak is also an organization of some importance demanding independence from Indian rule.

Above mentioned facts are very basic and known history of the insurgency in the North Eastern Region. To counter these movements and armed struggles , Government of India promulgated AFSPA  , [ Armed Forces Special Powers Act ] of 1958 in the region. This act gives sweeping powers to armed forces. It gives them license to kill . Currently AFSPA is in force in Assam , Nagaland , Manipur [ barring some areas in and around Imphal , the capital of the state ] , 2 districts of Arunachal Pradesh [ Tirap and Changlang ] and some areas of Tripura .

People of North East resent the draconian AFSPA and they want its removal . Removal of AFSPA is demanded in Jammu & Kashmir also. I am intrigued that  removal of AFSPA is being considered sympathetically by the central government in Jammu & Kashmir but when it comes to Manipur or other areas of North East it is refused point blank. Recently Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram visited Manipur and said that since there is no consensus , so AFSPA cant be removed. Was there consensus about Anna Hazare’s demand in the beginning ? Everyone sat and consensus emerged. If consensus could be manufactured in Anna’s case , why can’t it be done in the case of Irom Sharmila Chanu ? Anna’s fast is hailed as the democratic right of citizen of this country and his subsequent victory is heralded as the sign of vibrant democracy but Irom Sharmila’s fast is viewed as sedition. Anna got all the sympathy and Irom Sharmila got indifference.

Is it sign of vibrant democracy that people of Manipur had to agitate for the creation of a new district ; Sadar Hills ? Mayawati , the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh , creates districts at her whims and fancies and central government acquiesces. But in Manipur a tribal organization resorted to economic blockade for creation of Sadar Hills and no one took cognizance. A sense of outrage engulfed me when I saw a photo of a group of women protesting naked for the removal of AFSPA. Still no cognizance was taken. Insensitive central government ignores all the above mentioned demands , though the method was pure Gandhian , but the same government is willing to talk to the militants of Jammu & Kashmir for the removal of AFSPA . Can anyone explain me the cause for this partiality? If central government has no qualms in talking to Syed Ali Shah Geelani , Yasin Malik or other leaders of separatist Hurriyat Conference , then what is the hitch in talking to Irom Sharmila Chanu , who is not a militant or not resorting to armed struggle ? Of late talks are going on with ULFA leaders of Assam and NSCN [ I – M ] of Nagaland , who are waging armed struggle against Indian Union, but the silent , non – violent and peaceful movement of Irom Sharmil and the other women of Manipur is completely ignored.

I am pained , aggrieved and outraged . I can’t do much because I am too insignificant. But I firmly believe that if central government can talk to separatists of Hurriyat Conference of Jammu & Kashmir , then it can talk to Irom Sharmila Chanu also. If government of India can work out modalities for the breaking of the fast of Anna Hazare , then it can work out something for Irom Sharmila also. If consensus was evolved for Anna’s cause , it could be evolved for Irom Sharmila’s cause also. 12 days of Anna’s fast is too much but 11 years of Irom Sharmila’s fast is a lifetime.

Something should be done and it should be done soon.

Irom Sharmila Chanu

Irom Sharmila Chanu

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