The Big Story: Gun-totting state
As an insurgency left over from Partition and one supported amply by Pakistan, the popular imagination in India focuses on Kashmir. As a result, many forget that the highly controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act – which gives the Indian security forces indemnity from prosecution – was first thought up in Assam and Manipur way back in 1958. It only came to Kashmir only in 1990.
A state’s army is meant to counter external aggression. When used internally, the consequences can be brutal. What does it say that the AFSPA has been in active use in Manipur for more than four decades? What status report of Indian democracy does it produce, given that Manipuris are still, in their day-to-day lives, policed by a military? Why is the accession to the Indian Union of the princely state of Manipur still such a sore point?
Right now, the Supreme Court is hearing a petition that accuses the forces of committing as many as 1,528 fake encounters over the past two decades – and that just might be the tip of the iceberg.
So scarred is Manipur by violence that in 2004, 12 Maniprui women stripped down and protested outside the Assam Rifles headqurers with the banner saying, "Indian Army Rape Us." They were protesting the rape and murder of a Manipuri woman Thangjam Manorama, allegedly by Assam Rifles personnel.
Today Irom Sharmila will break her 16–year fast to remove the AFSPA in her home state of Manipur. It has been a failure. Gandhi was at heart an anarchist and disliked state power. But his methods, when used by Sharmila, have proved to be ineffective in front a state that has dug its heels in – be it in Kashmir or a thousand miles away in Manipur.
The Big Scroll
Anubha Bhosle, author of a book about Manipur titled Mother, Where’s My Country?, explains what the end of Irom Sharmila’s non-violent fast tells us about India. And Saikat Datta tells us why the Supreme Court judgement on indefinite AFSPA in Manipur matters
- The final witness in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case – in which BJP president Amit Shah was once an accused – has been shot dead by the Telangana police.
- The Lok Sabha passed the constitutional amendment which would enable the Goods and Services Tax Bill to become a reality. It’s up to state legislatures now.
- Why does the Supreme Court feel that the Board of Control for Cricket in India has tactically deployed former Supreme Court justice Markandey Katju against them?
- In Karnataka, Dalit activists will stage a beef eating protest to counter cow protection violence.
- Kashmir's "azadi" and wordplay on the cow: the slogans used by Gujarat Dalit protesters point to vibrant cultural resistance.
- In Mint, Anil Padmanabhan explains how the new Goods and Services Tax will reorder Union-state relations in India.
- In the Times of India, Neerja Chowdhury argues that India needs to Reinvent and redesign the Integrated Child Development Services to effectively combat malnutrition
- In the Indian Express, Suhas Palshikar welcomes the Prime Minister’s castigation of Dalits but points out that his belated statements still require scrutiny.
Mridula Chari and Supriya Sharma ask if Maharashtra can prevent drought by digging rivers.
As collection boxes sprung up around Latur city for Jalyukt Latur, Shriram Kulkarni, a lawyer interested in civic issues, began to pay attention. Unlike several thousand others who enthusiastically contributed to the project, Kulkarni was instead concerned.
The Manjira was the only large river in the district and Kulkarni felt work on it should be done with care. What alarmed him the most were the public declarations that the project was aimed at increasing Manjira’s storage capacity.