What Is to be Done?

In Response to Sharma's Suggestions

Desmond Coutinho

Where to start. India has many lawyers some who claim the title Human Rights Lawyer many of those have won Western awards. Lawyers in every generation re-earn the reputation now shared by politicians and scribes. As November 2011 approached we had been engaged to be married for nearly a year by then I wrote to Sharmila with what I thought was a very clever plan well constructed. Cleverness is overrated. I put it to her that she would have practised satyagraha for ten years on 6 November 2011 and she should call a press conference and inform the public that she had failed. India didn't really care about the North East. North-Easterners could less but everyone likes to protest their love too much. I think my USP then was that the media likes anniversaries. If nothing changed after ten years then the next real landmark would be 20 years. I pointed out she had little real support and that those around her were both living off her awards—Five Star Hotel Activists as Mr Modi calls them. Another fake campaign was conducted about that time but I don't want to digress. For the whole of that year beginning 22 September 2010 the first credible set of death threats were made against her. If the Hindu maintains its archives one can read of the imminent death of Irom Sharmila reported on that day fed to the local Hindu Scribe probably sponsored by one of the gentlemen who outed themselves [ 260614.jun14 after the leaked IB report on Foreign Industrial Spies]

You will find among that list of self-outed gangsters the nephew of the former DG Manipur Police. He received his promotion after being suspended for six months by the Electoral Commission to prevent his assisting in political assassinations during the 2012 Manipur State Legislature Elections. The Supreme Court action which had looked positive but was managed by these NGOs who never audit their accounts resulted in cash payments of between 5-15 lacs per extra judicial execution but no prosecutions of any of the murderers. Bubbles managed to keep his family out of the lawyers’ sights possibly to avoid embarrassment there was never any question of anyone being held to account for their acts. When I visited Sharmila that year the local gangsters upped the ante, you and not the only ones who want her to give up her satyagraha. Her brother Irom Singhajit was allegedly paid by way of a non-returnable loan of 3 lac rupees and through other strange land title deeds to threaten honor killing against Sharmila. The CJM at the time HH Mr Justice Roland Keishing in response to Sharmila's request provided me with police protection till I left Imphal. There's another interesting digression there but let's focus on your suggestion which I think is more positive.

I want Sharmila to enjoy some happiness. She is an incredibly beautiful sensitive amazing person. I have read many pieces by jerks who have never met describing how she looks how she thinks. I know of the often petty and spiteful behaviour of high ranking officials. Ordinary day to day workers tend to be more human. My offer is whatever she wants. I presume some time in spas and possibly ayurovedic hospitals in India. I can afford, it would be too expensive in the West. I have bought a small terraced house for her in County Galway so one option would be to prepare her for the MUI Galway BA joint honours Degree in Arts and Human Rights. It's a long established course with a lot of flexibility. She already has the integrity lacking in the local 5 star activists of Manipur so beloved by the media, western mayang and domestic. On completion of the course she would be better educated than the brat pack of Manipur sponsored by foreign governments because of Uncle-ji's power not because of any innate talent or effort.

I am about imperfection. I would urge you to send your plan as is to Sharmila at Irom Sharmila Chanu, Human Rights Defender, Security Ward, Jawaharlal Nehru IMS, Porompat, Imphal East, Manipur 795005, India. It's nice for her to get mail. The solitary confinement order illegally established purely by a letter sent from the then Principal Secretary Manipur in 2004 to then DG Imphal Police (Prisons) was never challenged by any lawyer. I couldn't find one. I found a lot of treacherous two faced men known as Indian Human Rights Lawyers it was the visit of the NHRC on 23 October 2013 which encouraged a passing Tamil Scribe Mega Tamizh Prabagharan to have the isolation order finally lifted around Xmas last year.

Have you ever meditated upon the Bhagavad Gita? I wouldn't ask if you had a copy of the Mahabharat that you read regularly because you'd assume I was calling you a Hindutva Fascist. India doesn't need to burn its books like the Swastik thousands of years of history and wisdom has been surrendered in one generation to a bunch of ignorant European inspired fascists. (Though they still burn books in Manipur among other things).

It's sometimes called Karma Yoga. Forgive me if I repeat old truths. She has read through the commentary of Gandhi-ji and of Sri Aurobindo among others and the commentaries treat the text completely differently. But what most agree is that Arjuna picks the Lord KRSN to be his charioteer like a UN observer leaving his cousins with all the armies and weapons of mass destruction. Arjuna was given first choice.

And when he is filled with despair when he realises, as death tells the book thief, a soldier thinks he is running towards other soldiers but they are all running towards me. He asks what's the point. What does my life mean. All beings rush headlong into the Jaws of Time, where Time's teeth ground them fine so that nothing remains distinct. Even if I fight and win a moment later I too will rush headlong into the Jaws of Time.

You can stop reading if I bore. KRSN tells him to act then with devotion and without lust for result. Later that the presentation of a flower in true devotion is everything.

For me I am more like the hero of the Fall. If people are watching I want to appear good. But if I were to die in some third world shithole taunted by slimy nasty two faced goondas whom you will all praise as the next Special Rapoorteurs. I think I am like you. I would want to know what's in it for me. I would want someone to applaud and say how wonderful I had been. And when I die I would die in despair because all the applause at that moment would count for nothing.

As we write a ten-man team from the NSCM IM are meeting with a Union Minister and Special Interlocutor and if the talks are successful they will get a photo shoot with Mr Modi on his return from abroad. I do not object to talks with terrorists. As the British learnt in Northern Ireland there is no point in having talks with people with whom you are already in agreement. You either talk or kill. And as survivors put it they don't want any more dirty talk, they don't want any more talk of revenge rapes punishment beatings and killings. They don't want any other family to suffer the way they have.

I am not objecting to the Government continuing to talk to the NSCNIM. But why is it that even the offer twice made by Mr Kiren Rijiju to meet with Sharmila has lapsed like a pocket full of mumbles. She has some prophetic dreams. She told me of the one of our settling in Ireland only after I had purchased the house. She told me of her dream involving Mr Modi before the elections but she didn't make it public till after for the same reason.

I don't know if your plan will work. You know the phrase it is the tragedy of Manipur that it turns its women into heroes. More than anyone else she has simple wishes she listens to everyone so I am sure she will read your letter should you decided to send it to her. Can her resolve be broken? Humanity is a fragile thing. You know her resolve can be broken. There's no shame in that. But I no longer try to. I continue to offer her my support without conditions. I have given up only on all other Manipuris.

Vol. 47, No. 16, Oct 26 - Nov 1, 2014