Friday, 31 May 2013

Letter to NHRC to intervene in cases of human rights' violation in Kashmir and North-East India


The Chairperson
National Human Rights Commission
Faridkot House
New Delhi 110001

Subject: Request to act in the cases of human rights' violation in North-East and Jammu & Kashmir

Respected Sir,

With due respect, we request you to kindly consider this as a letter from one human being to another. This is about a situation that NHRC is well-aware of. We know that hundreds of letters, appeals and requests have been sent to NHRC. As members of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign, we have met you twice regarding this issue. Sir, the issue remains the same - to save the life of people of North east and Jammu & Kashmir from the demon named AFSPA or Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

It is a fact that the world has acknowledged the struggle of eche Irom Sharmila. They salute her for her sustained faith in the democratic and non-violent way of struggle. It is also a fact that UN has also questioned India on the validity of this law. The UN had recognised the horrendous lives that the AFSPA has granted to the unfortunate people of these states. The Government-appointed Jeevan Reddy committee had also demanded the repeal of the law. These are all facts. But these are not the grounds on which we appeal to you.

We appeal to you on a humanitarian basis. Sir, we are not from these states. But this cause does move us, for the reason that we are human beings. It is unimaginable and unacceptable to us the horror in which people of these states live. Every day is a struggle for them to save their life and honour. Sir, you know about the horrendous incidents of the Malom massacre where 11 innocent people including a 60 year old lady and a recipient of the Child Bravery award had died, the Kunan Poshpora incident of Kashmir wherein about 100 women were raped by army men, the Shopian case, the case of Manorama Devi but these are only few cases. There are everyday stories of torture. Everyday is a struggle to escape from the clutches of the army men. The landscape in these states is mapped by army check-points and camps which are impossible to pass without being interrogated. In Kashmir, failing to show the identity card can mean torture, rape or killing. But this does not mean that the house is a safe place. Any moment, the army men can come and raid the house. According to news reports and research reports (enclosed), during the search operations, there have been many reported and unreported cases of sexual assault and rape. The night is most dreadful as the armymen begin their search. In the name of searching for "millitants", all they do is to raid into villages, break-open doors of any random house and identify the male in the house as a "suspect". The widows of these "suspects" is also not able to get any state benefit meant for widows because their deceased husband are regarded as militants. We have enclosed several stories. According to a report entitled ‘Manipur: Memorandum on Extrajudicial Summary or Arbitrary Executions’ submitted by the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights in Manipur and the UN to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Summary or Arbitrary Executions reported that 1528 people, including 31 women and 98 children were killed in fake encounters by security forces in Manipur between 1979 and May, 2012.

Sir, you had said that this is the issue of Government and the Government has to take action but Sir, they are clearly not bothered. The report of the Jeevan Reddy Committee had gone to the Government. The State Governments obviously know the situation but still no-one is ready to do anything. So then what? Where do the common people go? Isin't it the responsibility of NHRC to protect their rights? It is a matter of right to life. Why can't NHRC do anything? NHRC is an autonomous body. If even NHRC will not take any action, where will the people go? It is not acceptable that a certain section of the population should suffer to save the "integrity" of the nation. And which integrity, Sir? And more importantly, at what cost? The people who are suffering every day, are their lives not precious? are they not human beings? What is their fault? What was the fault of those 11 civilians who were shot dead only because the Assam rifles could not shoot down the militants? Their fault was that they were not privileged like you and me and were born in these states. This was their only fault. Sir, is it acceptable?

We are proud to say that our politics has so many women politicians. We are proud to dub it as "women empowerment" but what about the rapists in army uniform who rape our sisters in Kashmir and North East India. What about Asiya, Nilofar, Manorama Devi and thousands of women who have been raped. What about Irom Sharmila? For 12 years, the lady has been on a hunger-strike and no-one cares. She is accused of committing suicide but is that the case? The lady was not even a direct victim of AFSPA but she has sacrificed her life to repeal the cause because she has seen the horrors. Aren't you sympathetic towards her? She could have got married, have kids, would have migrated to Delhi or to some other place but she did not do that. She is under house arrest in a hospital. Today, she can't even talk properly. When she came to Delhi, even though we had only seen her in the photographs, we were traumatized to see her condition. Today, the lady can't even walk. She has become so weak, yet she has not lost hope. Sir, we feel helpless as we write this letter because there is really nothing that we could do for her and for these people who are suffering only because they had a hard luck of being born in these states. They are no different from me or from anyone else in this country, then why do they have to suffer? A kashmiri youth had said that, "While you people grew up playing, we grew up seeing guns." He also said that in Kashmir, there is an increasing no. of blind youths as the army men fire pellets into their eyes if they protest against any extra-judicial killing, murder or rape.

Is this inhumanity acceptable? Should we turn blind to their sufferings? Should we turn deaf to the screams and wails of mothers, widows and children? What about our own conscience?

As about the law, is this the way to "integrate" the nation? By torturing innocent people, destroying their lives, rendering them unemployed, how are we integrating the nation? As about the militants, is this the way to deal? The Government should open talks with them, instead of punishing the innocent people for the crimes of the militants. Torturing innocent people, depriving them of basic rights, underdevelopment are also causes that do encourage people to take up arms. The Government should think of "integration" in more positive and humane ways. NHRC must break its silence and speak out.

Sir, we request you to kindly respond and act strictly and immediately on this issue. Please take action through the following ways:

*Send a fact-finding team to all AFSPA-imposed states to investigate into the cases of violence and the affected everyday life of the people.
*The report of the team should be analysed and a document on the validity of the law on account of the human rights' violation should be made. NHRC can atleast suggest on the basis of evidence.
*The report should be sent to the Government, to the judiciary and other authorities and demand an action.
It is not about a law, it is about the lives of thousands of human beings.

Sir, we request you to please intervene to save the life and honour of the people of North East and Jammu & Kashmir. If NHRC will not take action, where will the people go? Please save their lives from this draconian law. Laws can't be bigger than people.

Hoping for a positive and immediate response.

Thanking You

Ravi Nitesh and Devika Mittal
Volunteers of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign

Friday, 10 May 2013

Don’t You Have A Sharmila Within You?

By Ravi Nitesh

Sangai Express (

When you talk about her, you automatically relate yourself with her, with her pain and struggle, with all the sufferings of her and this association happens without force, it is because somewhere your soul is same as her or as any other human being. This association with someone's pain and sufferings is based on the very nature of humanity because humanity is a virtue of being human and regardless of specific identity.

The continuous demand of Irom Sharmila through a non violent protest under which she adopted path of hunger protest and observing it since last 12 years, is itself a struggle that needs lot of power and self belief and self motivation. It is all towards your fight as an individual for the objective of welfare of a large group who are associated with you with the relation of humanity. When you write about her, when you hear about her and when you talk about her, its all about your contribution also in a larger struggle for the sake of justice. We all know about the cause for which she is on hunger protest. It is for the better administration, a rule of justice, a peaceful environment. The rule against which she is on protest is a draconian law in real terms. There were hundreds of examples where it can be proved that this rule named 'armed forces special powers act' violated the rights and attacked on humanity. She through her protest dedicated herself towards sacrifice as a protest. Her sacrifice is actually not about suicide (as claimed by rule of law of India), instead it is towards enriching the life of self and others with building a safe environment of living , of living with dignity as in true sense life without dignity and humanity is actually no life. We all must have to live our life for such causes in our own areas.

If you will see closely, you will understand that you too have same spirit the Sharmila has. When you will think, you will find that there is an automatic respect in your soul for her. You must had experience of your own struggle that you ever fought for a right cause at your home, school or work place and this fight of your life , though , you might suffered during your fight but it is sure that you had realized the need for this fight and the satisfaction after following your inner voice. If you would left the option to fight then you might feel guilty of not doing anything. It happens with everyone, our hearts sometime tell us to help someone, to fight something, to shout on , to raise our voice, to make our people and government more effective, and on the next instant, we again back to our life. Sharmila had the same feelings and emotions that you have, she is as like you as you are for yourself, she is a sister, daughter and fellow citizen. The only difference between you and Sharmila is that she fought and struggled for the cause for a long time and she did not come back to normal life. She became so motivated that she decided to live with dignity. Her soul became so pure for a specific purpose that she get diverted from all worldly affairs. It is the time for all of us, to identify a Sharmila within us and to think and to associate with the great cause of her. It is a fight that she is not fighting for herself instead for all of us who believe in justice.

It is a time to identifying our potential in our hearts and souls that make ourselves a follower of truth. It is a time to think about future generations and to contribute in building an atmosphere of fearless minds. Its not only fight of Manipur or other NE states or J&K, its not only fight of those who lost their persons in resulted this rule, instead it is a demand by the persons who believe in humanity and rights and justice for all. We all are living Sharmila in our heart because we are determined to support the Repeal AFSPA cause and moreover to the all and any cause that can enrich humanity and that can remove ill effects of present rules imposed by society or government at any place.

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Ravi Nitesh, New Delhi (INDIA)

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