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April 19, 2011

Irom’s 10 years, Hazare’s 4-day fast: Unequal Equation! 
By Teli Yami

The other day I was going through my facebook account when I came across a forum "Stop discriminating people from Northeast India" with 9907 members. "Irom Chanu Sharmila has been fasting for over a decade now against the atrocities of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act better known by its acronym AFSPA. Anna Hazare's four days old campaign already got the whole country crying out. So what's the difference?" read itslatest status. This drew my attention and made me wonder about the different reaction that is evoked on issues confronting Northeast India, within India. It is a bitter fact that North-easterners are discriminated and treated unequally.
Is it not sad that Irom has been fastingfor over 10 years and even after that it is still not equal to Hazare's 4 days fasting? Don't' get me wrong: My thoughts are not against Hazare's success; indeed he has brought forth agreat challenge against the corruption, but why is Iroms's plea not heard in the corridor of power and even in mainstream media?
This brings in the role of media which had rallied behind Hazare and createdso much hype around him. In the context of AFSPA it seems that this particular Act pertains only to the people of Northeast, with no implication to rest of Indians. Moreover "News from Northeast doesn't affect TRP rating of viewership. Thus, media finds it less attractive; besides lack of celebrities' support to a humanitarian fight," said Dibyak Das Sarkar a native of Vadodara, Gujarat.
To those uninitiated ones, Irom has been fasting since November 4, 2000 for withdrawal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, from Manipur and other areas of India's north-east. Isn't it a sign that even at policy level there are discriminations meted out to the Northeast?
"One of the reasons why Irom's cause is still unheard is that the people of Northeast have failed to portray the issue of AFSPA as a challenge to the constitutionally granted fundamental rights of every Indian. Very few knowabout AFSPA and there is no mass mobilization," said Kobby Zirdo, a member of Arunachal Pradesh WomenWelfare Association (APWWA).
Mind you, Irom's hunger strike is not about people of Manipur or NE, it concerns every Indian citizen. Isn't the implementation of an Act like AFSPA tantamount to murder of democracy itself? It is loud and clear that Irom wants state to be accountable for the extra judicial killings which today is shielded and guarded in the name of AFSPA. How many 'mongoloid faces' need to be sacrificed as sitting ducks for Indian Army before we all wake up to reality?
It is about time that every discerning North-easterner wakes up to the reality that Irom's fight against AFSPA would not just benefit Manipur but the entire region, if successful. So is it not the time to give morale and physical support to Irom, the way the rest of Indians backed up Hazare? Maybe we too can achieve what the rest of Indians achieved in four days. (SentinelAssam)