“Who will bring justice when murderers themselves are in power?” sings Akhu Chingangbam, in Imphal Talkies and The Howlers’ latest song Fake Encounters.
When a Manipur-based folk rock band writes a song called Fake Encounters, the title is self-explanatory. After all, it comes from a state that has been held between the iron fists of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act since 1958. AFSPA, may we remind you, has been accused of carrying out 1,528 extra-judicial killings in Manipur between 1979 and 2012.
Imphal Talkies, as the band is more popularly known, has long been a vocal opponent of AFSPA in Manipur, a point they have driven home again and again while performing at protest rallies and events around India. About a year ago, they even released a song called AFSPA, Why Don’t You Go F**k Yourself? (no points for subtlety here).
This time, the band wanted to remember the individuals who were killed in the alleged extra-judicial executions. They opportunely released the song on World Music Day, June 21. Akhu, meanwhile, wrote on twitter along with the announcement of the video that the song was originally written in 2009, following the (now-confirmed) fake encounter killing of Chungkham Sanjit Meitei and Thokchom Rabina on July 23, 2009.
The powerful video, all shot in monochrome to highlight the subject, highlights the fake encounters as well as acts of violence committed by AFSPA and CRPF border personnel in Manipur. The lyrics similarly echo the heart-breaking sentiments:
“Who will bring justice
When murderers themselves are in power?
For how many murders do you give salute under the flag?
For how many lives hang that medal on your chest?
On whose orders have you murdered so foul?
Are you now satiated yet, how do you sleep at night?
The widows they are still mourning facing the abuse of the powerful
Yet still fighting for justice for the 1,528 who were killed”