Imphal: Thirteen years after their naked protest here against the alleged rape of a 32-year-old woman by Assam Rifles troops, the “Mothers of Manipur” want their fight to go on till the controversial AFSPA is scrapped.
It was on July 15, 2004 when the 12 elderly women staged the naked protest outside the historic Kangla Fort, then a camp of the Assam Rifles, holding placards that read “Come Indian Army Rape Us”, which had shaken the conscience of the entire nation.
‘Not borne fruit’
The women, fondly called “Mothers of Manipur”, now say their protest 13 years ago had not borne fruit and so they would continue to fight till the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act is completely withdrawn.
“We all felt like we are mothers of the hapless girl who was gang-raped and murdered. The women of Manipur have been the worst victims of insurgency. Both the militant groups and a section of security forces torture women as we are soft targets. Our mode of protest then came from within,” 66-year-old Gyaneshori said.
“We wanted a message to be delivered to the world and the rest of the country that we too have the right to live with dignity and Manipuri women can’t be just raped and killed,” she says.
Haobam Tombi says although the protest led to the Kangla Fort being vacated by the Assam Rifles and the AFSPA being withdrawn from seven Assembly constituencies, the fight will go on till complete withdrawal of the law which gives the army enormous emergency powers.