Two years after the historic protest outside Kangla Fort in Imphal by mothers which touched off country-wide protests, demanding the repeal of the draconian AFSPA,
and punishment for the army officers who carried out the rape and murder of Manorama Devi, the protests refuse to die down. On July 15, 2006 , the second anniversary of the Kangla Fort protest, protest actions took place in Imphal, Delhi and other parts of the country.
In Delhi, the Manipuri Students Association of Delhi organised a widely attended Convention that passed a clear and unanimous resolution demanding the repeal of the Act.
Two documentary films were shown at the Convention which highlighted to the people of Delhi the terrible violation of Human Rights that has been going on in Manipur in the name of counter-insurgency. These were Untitled: Three films, a film by Kavita Joshi, and Cycle of Violence by Shyam Benegal and Sutapa Dev.
A panel discussion was organised. Those who participated in the panel included Kuldip Nayyar, Senior Journalist, Prakash Rao, Spokesperson of the Communist Ghadar Party of India, Dr. Thockchom Meinya, Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) from Manipur, Arjun Pal, of the Revolutionary Democratic Front, Dr. A Bimol Akoijam, Associate Fellow of the CSDS, film maker Kavita Joshi, Malini Bhattacharya of the National Commission of Women, Dr Nandini Sundar, Prof Uma Chakroborty, and Dr Jimmy, Director of the Indian Social Institute.
After the panelists had presented their views, a vigorous discussion took place. Many people raised the question, whether AFSPA would be repealed at all. The MP from Manipur expressed his conviction that the recommendations of the review panel set up by the government on the AFSPA had clearly recommended repeal of the Act and hence he was confident that it would be repealed sooner or later. Prakash Rao pointed out that we must wage the struggle with the conviction that we will be victorious and the AFSPA can and will be repealed.
An important question that came up in the Convention related to the present political system and process which marginalises the people. It was pointed out that it is not just the people of Manipur and various other smaller nationalities and peoples who were marginalised, it was all the toiling and oppressed people. The present system of representative democracy simply cannot address these issues. Prakash Rao called upon the MSAD and all present to organise public discussion on the flaws of representative democracy and the party system of governance in place in India, as well as how direct democracy can be established in India, so that the will of the people, in this case the will of the Manipuri people, can prevail. This was welcomed by other panelists.
he President of the Manipuri Students Association, R Banerjit Singh concluded the meeting thanking the panelists for their contribution to taking the movement for repeal of AFSPA forward.