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AFSPA is not to be repealed whatever may come!
Troubled Galaxy Destroyed Dreams, Chapter: 815
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AFSPA is not to be repealed whatever may come! What if the 'Iron Lady of Manipur' Irom Chanu Sharmila, who has been on a hunger strike since 2000 demanding repeal of Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA), is completing 12 years of fast today!Born on March 14, 1972, Irom Sharmila Chanu is also known as the "Iron Lady of Manipur" or "Mengoubi" ("the fair one").We may not complain the politics which banks on exclusion, excommunication and segregation.It is known fact that the state has always been an institution to defend the interest of microminority elite ruling class and never to be represented by the people. The concept of welfare state is dead and it is quite irrelevant in India what if US Presidential election is all set to suffer a dramatic turnaround just because of the resurgence of benevolent state thanks to hurricane Sandy! We are americanised and the ruling hegemony converted the state into a repression machine. Open market economy and free capital inflow has subjected the majority masses and the aborigine humanscape to predestined ethnic cleansing! Just remember, the firebrand paribartan lady, Ms Mamata Banerjee in Manipur pledging to repeal AFSPA. She forgot.What about us, we the people?The 'Iron Lady of Manipur' Irom Chanu Sharmila, began her hunger strike after the death of 10 people in an alleged encounter with the Assam Rifles at Malom in Imphal Valley.what a heart made of gold Irom has ! While we remain detached from anything happening around us!Mind you, Sharmila began her fast till death after ten persons, including a boy who received the National Bravery Award, were shot dead in an alleged encounter with Assam Rifles personnel at Malom near Imphal Airport on November 2, 2000. She has been force-fed through the nose to keep her alive since then. How do we react against the anti people measures branded as economic reforms?A newspaper columnist and social worker then, Sharmila, went on fast on November 5 that year demanding repeal of AFSPA. She was arrested a day later and charged with attempt to commit suicide.Since then she has been produced in Court from time to time, re-arrested and produced again in Court. She is force fed at a Government Hospital at Porompat here where the ward she is in has been converted into a jail. What if if the Act is removed only from Manipur, then it will still be imposed in other states where the people will continue to suffer?
There are three events which would always identify with the struggle against AFSPA which are Sharmila’s 12 years long fast, Pebam Chittanranjan’s suicide and the women nude protest at Kangla gate.What a shame! The nation witnessed the nude protest by Manipur Mothers live thanks to media blitz and nothing happened! We so called Indians living in the mainland, so called mainstream never do consider the people from aborigine humanscape ie entire north east, kashmir and the Himalayan zone any tribal belt demanding to implement fifth and sixth schedule of the constitution and resisting indiscriminate industrialisation, displacement and urbanisation specifically in the central india, best known as Dandakaranya as fellow Indian citizens. Crude violation of human and civil rights in the North East, kashmir or the so called Maoist belt never does irritate us!The government of India has launched a war against the indigenous, aborigin people way back in 1958, for such a long span we remained silent just because of segregation of the communities living there. Manipur is within the democratic boundary of India where suspected individuals are caught by the police and are supposed to be produced before the court and punish accordingly.In Manipur, however the security personnel especially the Indian military forces are given extra immunity and act themselves as police and judge and sometime kills a person without any judgement. This Act lending extra arms power to the Indian military treats the people of Manipur like animals which has resulted in the loss of many lives in Manipur.
“I was shocked to see the dead bodies. There was no means to stop further violations by the armed forces…. It (fast) is the most effective way because it is based on a spiritual fight… My fast is on behalf of the people of Manipur. This is not a personal battle, it is symbolic. It is a symbol of truth, love and peace”, Irom Sharmila Chanu said.
After just three days of fasting, the police arrested her for attempted suicide, which is punishable according to Indian Penal Code. The administration started force-feeding her via nasal tubes and confined her to the Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital in Imphal. Because the maximum sentence for an ‘attempt to suicide’ cannot exceed one year, Irom Sharmila Chanu is released on completion of one year, and re-arrested after 2-3 days, on the same charges. This has been going on for the last 12 years.
A woman has been on hunger strike for the last 12—repeat 12—years in an effort to have the Government of India withdraw the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) from Manipur and other parts of India. On the world's longest hunger strike, she has completed twelve years of fasting over human rights abuses in Manipur and promises to continue. Silently but forcefully, she is highlighting the rarely reported decade-long insurgency in Manipur and the government's response to it with Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), something she opposes.
The Parliament had passed this Act on September 11, 1958. It gives the armed forces special powers in the ‘disturbed areas’ in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. It was later extended to Jammu and Kashmir as The Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 in July 1990.
On October 27 last at a function organised in Kolkata, a trust had decided to confer the first Kovilan Smaraka Activist India National Award in memory of Malayalam poet AA Ayyappan upon Sharmila. However, Sharmila, who is also a poet, refused to accept the award.
"Sharmila will not accept any awards until she has succeeded in her mission," said her brother Irom Singhajit. However, Singhajit, who attended the function, returned the award and asked the organisers "to keep it in their custody and present it to Irom Sharmila when she has achieved her goal."
The decision not to accept any awards was taken by Sharmila.
"We appreciate the award and have asked them to keep it in their custody," he said.
Mouli Banerjee wrote quite well,`The Iron Lady of Manipur, to use the clichéd phrase now identified with Irom Sharmila, has been on a fast since November 5, 2000. She has written to the highest authorities in the country, she has personally met dignitaries who have all promised her their support, she has marched to iconic landmarks to direct public attention to her uniquely resilient protest.
All of this, for one straightforward demand that hasn't wavered over twelve years- the repealing of AFSPA. Her protest came into the limelight for most people in my generation through the comparision of her fast to anti-corruption protests led by Anna Hazare and his team. To question or justify the validity of that particular movement would require digressing into unrelated territories, but one must note that as far as resilience and fasting was concerned, Irom Sharmila's dedication to her cause was way superior to that of her counterparts in the anti-corruption movement.
And yet, not only did the media focus its attentions on the movement led by Anna Hazare, but the movement itself proved to be a political game-changer for India, with the Ruling Party cowering under the pressures of the protesting public and the Opposition sweeping in to declare its sympathies with it.
I feel that this is relevant to the case of Irom Sharmila in two ways, as a glimmer of hope and a cause of despair as well. Hope perhaps resides in the fact that the Indian society is evidently capable of being an agent of change, if it so chooses. The cause of despair, quite obviously in this case, is that for them, the bitter, painful political statement of Irom Sharmila is perhaps nothing but a unique piece of news. The ones who sympathise with her too are perhaps only move to a state of awe but nothing more ensues out of it.
As opposed to teams of powerful men and women creating rallies for their cause, here is a woman, an ordinary woman, who decided one morning to fight for not just her own rights but the rights of her people. Here is a woman who is also a sister, a daughter and had aspirations like any other twenty-eight year old would, and she put all her ordinary dreams on hold in order to fulfill a greater destiny, to bear a light for others to follow. Here is a woman who declared a hunger strike twelve years ago for a particular cause and has stuck by her resolve.’(http://e-pao.net/epSubPageExtractor.asp?src=features.Profile_of_Manipuri_Personalities.Irom_Sharmila.In_Hope_Of_Saving_The_Saviour_Of_Hope)
Along with Irom Chanu Sharmila completing 12 years of fasting over the public demand for withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act from Manipur today, Bishnupur Apunba Nupi Lup remembered the day as 'Chittaranjan na Thawaigee Pontha Pikhiba amadi Irom Chanu Sharmila na Chahi Taranithoi Chara Hel-lakpa' .
Pebam Chittaranjan committed self immolation and died on August 14, 2004 over the demand for repeal of AFSPA.
he people of Bishnupur town today showed solidarity with Irom Sharmila’s demand for repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act by suspending business activities for a day.
“We could not fast like Sharmila, but we want to show our solidarity and lend our voice to the cry for repeal of the army act. We held the rally and public meeting for this reason. We plan to organise further anti-army act programmes to put pressure on the government and to drum up more public support against the act,” Sumati Oinam, vice-president of the Apunba Nupi Lup, Bishnupur district, said.
To mark the occasion, a public meeting held at Yangoi Ningthou Yangoi Leima Shanglen, Bishnupur bazaar in Bishnupur district today where a photo exhibition dislaying images of human rights violation under AFSPA was put up.
Later, a peaceful rally was taken out till the spot where Chittaranjan committed self immolation.
Participating in the meeting, Dr Chinglen Meisnam, Asst.
Prof of Department of Economics, MU, said that all the present day leaders in Manipur are fit to be garlanded only but none is fit to be honoured.
He said that those leaders who do not think for their own land are akin to death and alleged that though the people have all along stood against AFSPA, some leaders do not want to repeal the Act for the simple reason that they are being benefitted from prolong imposition of AFSPA.
These political leaders made promises time and again in their election manifestos during the time of election that they would work hard to withdraw AFSPA from the State but they have remained mute, he charged.
He also alleged that the State Government is gulping huge amount of money given by the Centre by telling the latter that development works are hindered by militancy.
Irengbam Arun, Resident Editor of Imphal Free Press observed that the silence maintained by the Government of India over the 12-year long hunger strike by Sharmila clearly indicates that the Government is ignoring non-violence.
He maintained that the movement launched by Sharmila is purely a part of the non-violence movement spearheaded by Mahatma Gandhi.
The security forces and police in Manipur are carrying out the task of the law courts so partly withdrawal or making changes of AFSPA is not necessary at all but it should be completely withdrawn from the State, he demanded.
A peaceful rally participated by around hundred people was also taken out from Yangoi Ningthou Yangoi Leima Shanglen and culminated at the spot where Chittaranjan committed by self immolation to pay homage to the departed soul.
The event was attended by Laishram Nolindro, Chairperson of Bishnupur Municipal Council and N Nganbi, President of Bishnupur Apunba Nupi Lup as presidium members.
Dr Oinam Kulabidhu, author of "Sharmila- Messenger of Peace" also spoke on the occasion.
Meanwhile, families of the 10 innocent people who were killed in Malom massacre paid floral tribute to the victims at Malom Bus Waiting Shed.
Sharmila has received several Global Awards and several prominent personalities from different parts of the Country have visited her in support of her demands.
Her brother and spokesman Irom Singhajit said social organisations including Just Peace Foundation would hold candlelight demonstrations in Imphal while public discussions would be held during the day.
Official sources said Security and Police forces would be deployed in various parts of the city as a precautionary measure.
However, Civil society activists on Sunday observed a daylong fast at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, urging the government to initiate talks with activist Irom Sharmila, who has been on a peaceful fast for the past 12 years for repeal of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Manipur.
“We want to send out the message that Irom Sharmila is not alone. We feel for her because she is a true democrat and a true Gandhian. She has every right to be heard. Her struggle shows her faith in democracy and non-violence,” said Devika Mittal, from Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign (SSSC), which is opposed to the neglect and suppression of the Manipuri activist’s peaceful fast.
“It is quite unfortunate that the government is ready to talk to Maoists but not to Sharmila, who responded to the extreme violence perpetrated by misusing the AFSPA with extreme peace,” said Rishikesh from Jamia Millia Islamia. Now the ‘Iron lady of Manipur’ was being force-fed through the nose at the state-run Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences close to her Kongpal Kongkham Leikai residence in Imphal East, he said.
SSSC member Ravi Nitesh said the Army had reduced the AFSPA to a tool for violating human rights. “In a season when people are going on fast and the entire country’s political class engages in talks with them, it’s quite shocking that in these 12 years the government has not acknowledged her peaceful fast,” said Mr. Nitesh, who was among the 12 civil society activists who observed the daylong fast.
Gufran Khan, a student activist, called upon the judiciary to intervene, saying the executive was oblivious to the blatant rights violations in the entire north-east. He highlighted the fact that Ms. Sharmila had last month refused the Kovilan Smaraka Activist India National Award given by the Kerala-based Kovilan Trust, saying she would not accept any honour from any individual or organisation until and unless the AFSPA was scrapped.
Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Monday said he wanted a phased withdrawal of a legislation that gives sweeping powers to armed forces but would not fix a deadline.
"There is no deadline for the removal of AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) as of now, but it will go and the work is in progress on this count," Abdullah told reporters.
He was speaking after the ceremonial opening of government offices in this winter capital.
The "Durbar move" is a more than a century-old practice in Jammu and Kashmir when the seat of government shifts to Jammu in winter and to Srinagar with the onset of summer.
The practice was started by Dogra rulers of the state in the 1870s.
Abdullah had injected a new urgency in the removal of the AFSPA in October last year when he proclaimed that it would be withdrawn from some parts of the state within "the next few days".
He has since faced questions on when that promise would be made good.
The chief minister said Monday: "AFSPA will go. But when, I cannot tell, for no deadline has been set at this stage."
Asked about the threat of the Pakistan-based separatist leader Syed Salahuddin to target village heads in the state, Abdullah said the government would take measures to deal with it.
The Irom Lady
By Julius Tongbram
04 November, 2012
Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign is observing 12 Article series to reflect 12 years of suppression of Irom Sharmila's fast. Irom Sharmila is completing her 12 years of fast on 5th November. This is the 11th in the series
Truth is the first casualty of war. No exception. What happens out in the land of the Kangleicha’s now is a shameful history of anger, lies and empty promises.
Who is to be blamed? That is the question everyone ponders upon. Only a handful seems to be bothered to ask what lies ahead. Only a handful seems to care enough to look around for a solution. There are many to be blamed. It ranges from each one of us all the way to the so-called elected bodies who are supposed to represent “The People”.
This time every year, we vent our anger and disappointment in manners that is of no help to the cause. Those few who try and put it into action are hopelessly helpless and out of options. In the land of Kangleicha’s, home to warriors who fought for their land countless times against foreign hands, lingers a woman fighting relentlessly for twelve years. Here we are, talking and writing about her. Here we are, sitting cosily in our homes and writing a few lines to sing praises of her.
Sadly, that is all that we can do. Why? Because we aren’t made of what she is made of. There she lies on a hospital bed fighting for us. Silent. Resolved. Patient. Faithful. If she falls, blames fall in our hands. There will probably be a pandemonium for the next few days. Things could change with that surge of anger and force.
There would be one question that would come to my mind then. Why have we been silent for so long while she fights a long and lonely battle for all of us?
There are many ifs and buts that will come into place to discuss the situation in hand. However, few seem to consider humanity and compassion as a matter of concern. One cannot describe the magnitude of the indifference and disregard that has been meted out by each one of us towards her plight. It is only left to time now.
I can’t say or do anything differently to put this dilemma to an end. Unfortunately, the fate of Kangleicha’s future is tied to her now whether one wants to accept it or not. What saddens me the most is that there is very little hope to end this anytime soon and work towards a brighter future for those who are affected by this plague of fear, uncertainty and indecision.
They say, miracles do happen at the most unexpected of times. We, Kangleicha’s could use one now.
Julius Tongbram is a MBA student from Bangalore. He is the Guwahati co-ordinator for Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign. He can be mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org
Armed Forces Special Powers Act:
A study in National Security tyranny
The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958 (AFSPA) is one of the more draconian legislations that the Indian Parliament has passed in its 45 years of Parliamentary history. Under this Act, all security forces are given unrestricted and unaccounted power to carry out their operations, once an area is declared disturbed. Even a non-commissioned officer is granted the right to shoot to kill based on mere suspicion that it is necessary to do so in order to "maintain the public order".
The AFSPA gives the armed forces wide powers to shoot, arrest and search, all in the name of "aiding civil power." It was first applied to the North Eastern states of Assam and Manipur and was amended in 1972 to extend to all the seven states in the north- eastern region of India. They are Assam, Manipur, Tripura, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland, also known as the "seven sisters". The enforcement of the AFSPA has resulted in innumerable incidents of arbitrary detention, torture, rape, and looting by security personnel. This legislation is sought to be justified by the Government of India, on the plea that it is required to stop the North East states from seceeding from the Indian Union. There is a strong movement for self-determination which precedes the formation of the Indian Union.
2. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
As the great Himalayan range dividing South and Central Asia runs down the east, it takes a southward curve and splits into lower hill ranges. The hills are punctuated by valleys and the valleys are washed by the rivers that drain into to the Bay of Bengal. Waves of people settled in these blue hills and green valleys at various times in history. They brought with them cultures and traditions. The new interacted with the old and evolved into the unique cultural mosaic that characterizes the region.
Through the centuries, these hills and valleys have bridged South, South East, and Central Asia. On today's geo-political map, a large part of the original region constitutes the seven states of the Republic of India, but its political, economic and socio-cultural systems have always been linked with South East Asia. The great Hindu and Muslim empires that reigned over the Indian sub-continent never extended east of the Bhramaputra river.
India's British colonizers were the first to break this barrier. In the early 19th century, they moved in to check the Burmese expansion into today's Manipur and Assam. The British, with the help of the then Manipur King, Gambhir Singh, crushed the Burmese imperialist dream and the treaty of Yandabo was signed in 1828. Under this treaty, Assam became a part of British India and the British continued to influence the political affairs of the region.
This undue interference eventually led to the bloody Anglo- Manipuri conflict of 1891. The British reaffirmed their position but were cognizant of the ferocious spirit of independence of these people and did not administer directly but only through the King.
It was during the Second World War, when the Japanese tried to enter the Indian sub-continent through this narrow corridor, that the strategic significance of the region to the Indian armed forces was realised. With the bombing of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a disenchanted Japanese had to retreat from Imphal and Kohima fronts, however the importance of control over the region subsequently remained a priority for the Government of India.
With the end of the war, the global political map was changed over night. As the British were preparing to leave Asia, the Political Department of the British Government planned to carve out a buffer state consisting of the Naga Hills, Mikir Hills, Sadiya Area, Balipara Tract, Manipur, Lushai Hills, Khasi and Hills in Assam, as well as the Chin Hills and the hills of northern Burma. The impending departure of the British created confusion and turmoil over how to fill the political vacuum they would leave behind. Ultimately, the various territories were parceled out to Nehru's India, Jinnah's Pakistan, Aung Sang's Burma and Mao's China according to strategic requirements. As expected, there were some rumblings between the new Asiatic powers on who should get how much - India and Burma over Kabow valley, India and East Pakistan over Chittagong Hill Tracts, and India and China over the North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA), present day Arunachal Pradesh.
Compromises were made, and issues were finally settled in distant capitals, to the satifaction of the new rulers. The people who had been dwelling in these hills and valleys for thousands of years were systematically excluded from the consultation process. The Indian share of the British colonial cake in this region constitutes the present "Seven Sisters" states of the North-East.
Over the years, thanks to the British, the advent of western education and contact with new ideas brought about the realization that the old ways had to give way to the new. Indigenous movements evolved as the people aspired to a new social and political order. For example, in the ancient Kingdom of Manipur, under the charismatic leadership of Hijam Irabot, a strong popular democratic movement against feudalism and colonialism was raging. After the departure of the British, the Kingdom of Manipur was reconstituted as a constitutional monarchy on modern lines by passing the Manipur Constitution Act, 1947.
Elections were held under the new constitution. A legislative assembly was formed. In 1949, Mr V P Menon, a senior representative of the Government of India, invited the King to a meeting on the pretext of discussing the deteriorating law and order situation in the state at Shillong. Upon his arrival, the King was allegedly forced to sign under duress the merger agreement. The agreement was never ratified in the Manipur Legislative Assembly. Rather, the Assembly was dissolved and Manipur was kept under the charge of a Chief Commissioner. There were protests, but the carrot-and-stick policy launched by the Indian Government successfully suppressed any opposition.
The Naga Movement
At the beginning of the century, the inhabitants of the Naga Hills, which extend across the Indo-Burmese border, came together under the single banner of Naga National Council (NNC), aspiring for a common homeland and self-governance. As early as 1929, the NNC petitioned the Simon Commission, which was examining the feasibility of future of self-governance of India. The Naga leaders were adamantly against Indian rule over their people once the British pulled out of the region. Mahatma Gandhi publicly announced that the Nagas had every right to be independent. His assertion was based on his belief in non-violence, he did not believe in the use of force or an unwilling union.
Under the Hydari Agreement signed between NNC and British administration, Nagaland was granted protected status for ten years, after which the Nagas would decide whether they should stay in the Union or not. However, shortly after the British withdrew, independent India proclaimed the Naga Territory as part and parcel of the new Republic.
The NNC proclaimed Nagaland's independence. In retaliation, Indian authorities arrested the Naga leaders. An armed struggle ensued and there were large casualties on either side. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act is the product of this tension.
In 1975, some Naga leaders held talks with the Government of India which resulted in what is known as the Shillong Accord. The Naga leaders who did not agree with the Shillong accord formed the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) and continue to fight for what they call," Naga sovereignty".
Problems of Integration
Much of this historical bloodshed could have been avoided if the new India had lived up to the democratic principles enshrined in its Constitution and respected the rights of the nationalities it had taken within its borders. But in the over-zealous efforts to integrate these people into the "national mainstream", based on the dominant brahminical Aryan culture, much destruction has been done to the indigenous populations.
Culturally, the highly caste ridden, feudal society is totally incompatible with the ethics of North-East cultures which are by and large egalitarian. To make matters even worse, the Indian leaders found it useful to club these ethnic groups with the adivasis (indigenous peoples) of the sub-continent, dubbing them "scheduled tribes". As a result, in the casteist Indian social milieu, indigenous peoples are stigmatized by higher castes.
The languages of the North-East are of the Tibeto- Chinese family rather than the Indo-Aryan or Dravidian. Until the recent Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, none of the Tibeto- Chinese languages were recognized as Indian languages. The predominantly mongoloid features of the people of the North-East is another barrier to cultural assimilation.
Politically dependent, the North East is being economically undermined; the traditional trade routes with South East Asia and Bangladesh have been closed. It was kept out of the Government of India's massive infrastructural development in the first few five-year-plans. Gradually, the region has become the Indian capitalist's hinterland, where local industries have been reduced to nothing and the people are now entirely dependent on goods and businesses owned predominantly by those from the Indo- Gangetic plains. The economic strings of this region are controlled by these, in many cases, unscrupulous traders.
All the states of the North-East are connected to India by the "chicken's neck", a narrow corridor between Bangladesh and Bhutan. At partition, the area was cut off from the nearest port of Chittagong, in what is now Bangladesh, reducing traffic to and from the region to a trickle. The states in the region are largely unconnected to India' vast rail system.
India freely exploits the natural resources of the North-East. Assam produces one-fourth of all the petroleum for India, yet it is processed outside of Assam so the state does not receive the revenues. Manipur is 22% behind the national average for infrastructural development, and the entire North-Eastern region is 30% behind the rest of India.
Observers have pointed out that "...it is clear that in the North East, insurgency and underdevelopment have been closely linked; in such a situation strong-arm tactics will only help to further alienate the people."
The shifting demographic balance due to large-scale immigration from within and outside the country is another source of tension. The indigenous people fear that they will be outnumbered by outsiders in their own land. Laborers from Bihar and Bengal who live under rigidly feudal, casteist socio-economic conditions in their states are ready to do all kinds of menial jobs at much lower wages. As they pour in, more and more local laborers are being edged out of their jobs. Illegal immigration from Bangladesh and Nepal is also percieved as a threat. In Tripura, the indigenous population has been reduced to a mere 28% of the total population of the state because of large scale immigration from then East Pakistan and now Bangladesh.
In Assam, a similar fear of " immigrant invasion" was at the root of a student movement in the early eighties. The student leaders formed a political party called the Assam Gana Parisad (AGP) and contested state elections and won. In 1984, the Assam Accord was signed with the Central Government. However, the provisions of the Accord were never implemented. The failure of the AGP to bring about change in the state of Assam fostered the growth of the armed and overtly seccessionist United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA).
In the Lushai hills of Assam in the early sixties, a famine broke out. A relief team cried out for help from the Government of India. But there was little help. The relief team organized themselves into the Mizo National Front (MNF) and called for an armed struggle, " to liberate Mizoram from Indian colonialiasm." In February 1966, armed militant groups captured the town of Aizawl and took possession of all government offices. It took the Indian army one week to recapture the town. The army responded viciously with air raids. This is the only place in India where the Indian Security Forces actually aerially bombed its own civilian population. The armed forces compelled people to leave their homes and dumped them on the roadside to set up new villages, so that the armed forces would be able to better control them. This devastated the structure of Mizo society. In 1986, the Mizo Accord was signed between the MNF and the Government of India. This accord was identical to the Shilong Accord made with the Nagas earlier. The MNF agreed to work within the Indian Constitution and to renounce violence.
The Government of India's primary interest in the North East was strategic, and so was its response to the problems. A series of repressive laws were passed by the Government of India in order to deal with this uprising. In 1953, the Assam Maintenance of Public Order (Autonomous District) Regulation Act was passed. It was applicable to the then Naga Hills and Tuensang districts. It empowered the Governor to impose collective fines, prohibit public meetings and and detain anybody without a warrant.
On 22 May 1958, a mere 12 days after the Budget Session of Parliament was over, the Armed Forces (Assam-Manipur) Special Powers Ordinance was passed. A bill was introduced in the Monsoon session of Parliament that year. Amongst those who cautioned against giving such blanket powers to the Army included the then Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, (Upper House of the In