Manipur has been burning since May. The Prime Minister of India was observing an intense silence on the violence which was escalating in Manipur every passing day until a video of a horrendous act went viral. The video showed two women being paraded naked and sexually abused. The state Government had banned the internet in Manipur, due to which, this and many such acts of violence remained hidden from the world. After it came to light, the outrage was so intense that Prime Minister Modi was compelled to break his awful silence. During his last Independence Day address, the Prime Minister boasted about the pride of ‘Nari Shakti’ being pivotal in India’s growth. “We need to support our Nari Shakti” he had declared from the Red Fort and ironically, after a few hours, India’s Nari Shakti was miserably let down when the Gujarat Government set free all the 11 convicts of the Bilkis Bano gang rape case. Since then the perpetrators are walking free while the victims run from pillar to post to ensure their right to live without fear. The Prime Minister’s ‘Nari Shakti’ slogan suffered another severe blow when the world witnessed the video of a shocking and shameful act carried out against women in Manipur. The state and central government had to wait for a video to go viral before they could utter a word against the violence meted out, leave alone the decision of taking any stringent action thereof. A word of denunciation from the Prime Minister as soon as the violence broke out in Manipur and a stern warning against violence would have made a difference. By being silent the central and state governments have condoned and supported the violent mob. The Government is now required to not only punish the culprits but also take to task those responsible for sheltering the perpetrators and delaying the investigation of this harrowing incident.
The month of August always makes an Indian proud, reminiscing the moment and movement of the nation’s independence. It reminds us of being liberated from the clutches of British rule, yet we continue to be trapped in the clutches of casteism, racism, communal tensions, ethnic hostilities, corruption, injustice and power play. The nation is gripped with the fear of stifling dissent, state-supported intimidation, riots and lynching. If we choose to be silent and non-vigilant citizens, the idea of being an independent nation will turn into a farce.
Aura’s August issue commemorates the migration of Prophet Muhammad(PBUH), has a lineup of articles on varied subjects and dives into contemplating the true spirit of celebrating independence day. We as a nation should realize the dream of Rabindranath Tagore of “Where the mind is without fear, And the head is held high” which may remind us what independence truly means. Let us actualize these words instead of merely intoning them from time to time, particularly when silencing is the norm and forgetting is enforced.