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Cecil Thounaojam

Cecil Thounaojam

Cecil Thounaojam has been a freelance writer for Imphal Times and currently working as an in-house journalist for Imphal Times. He has completed MBA and worked as a copywriter for 5+ years in digital advertising agencies. Cecil is from Nongmeibung, Imphal East and he can be contacted at [email protected]

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Power of Artivism in ‘An Act of Remembrance’ and Political Debates

A group of Manipuri performing artists, supported by Zubaan, performed a 3-act play called An Act of Remembrance: Short Performance on Sexual Violence and Impunity in the Mass Communication Department of Manipur University on 10th October, 2019, as a part of their artivism of using art as an instrument to provoke the political context and struggles around sexual violence. The performance narrated some episodes of sexual violence from the past that involved predatory men and Indian army.  
The first act was a solo performance about a woman who defied the societal norm of painting and reducing her to being a rape victim. Instead, she claimed to be a survivor, reclaiming her identity of being a human, a woman, a mother, and a daughter with a family. It was an act of denying to give in and showing her children that she did not succumb to the fear and disgust of the society. The second solo act was about a man living and struggling with the trauma of sexual abuse by his uncle at a very young age. It was a story of years of holding back, questioning himself and trying to understand what led to what had happened. Recounting the indifference and disbelief that his friends and family showed, he narrated the series of events, finally, with a lump in his throat. The final act was a short narration of the multiple events of rape and sexual abuse committed by the Indian army in the conflict zones, like Kashmir, Manipur, Nagaland, Assam. It recounted the cases of sexual violence on anyone from 13-year old child to 65-year old woman in Kashmir, rape and murder of Thangjam Manorama, and gang rape of Miss Rose among many by Indian army. The play concluded by distributing and playing an audio of the letter written by Miss Rose before committing suicide.
The forum was then opened to the audience for discussion and the conversation was initiated addressing the issues highlighted in the play: social stigma around women who had been raped, uprising of many women who denied to be victimized by rape and stood up to the society as survivors, cultural masculine norms taught to men from an early age, negligence of sexual violence towards boys and young men in the society, and Indian army exercising the power granted by the Indian state and sexually exploiting thousands of women and children in the conflict zones.
Many women also spoke of various unwanted sexual advances and abuses that women face during festivals, in market places, while travelling, etc. Both men and women in the audience brought up topics of uncomfortable “friendly” gestures even in the close knit circles. Insights on the importance of educating boys from an early age on the family aspects, sensitivity and the harms of toxic masculinity were also discussed. Some of major touch points around toxic masculinity were the toxic narratives of “not manly”, “boys don’t cry”, “man up”, etc.
Another important aspect of the event was impunity. It focused on how, most of the times, the blame for rape was put on women for dressing a certain way or for staying out late or for drinking. The state of victim blaming that came from medical experts and police personnel, resulting in mental and emotional harassment, was also put forth in the forum. In addition to this, discussion around men exempted from holding accountable of the crimes and how Indian army enjoyed impunity because of its state machinery also happened. One major area of focus on Indian army enjoying impunity was draconian acts like AFSPA granted by the Indian state which allowed the Indian armies to abuse their power and protected the Indian armies. Since the Indian state required their armies in the conflict zones to control and monitor the people, rape allegations against them were not addressed by their authorities most of the time or swept under the rug. Further, the forum also recounted names of many women who were sexually violated and who lost their lives in the hands of Indian army. Another case in point was that people had to revolt and go on the streets to raise voices and fight for justice against such sexually violent acts by Indian armies.
In the course of the whole discussion, another interesting topic close to home that came up was the topic of ‘nupi chenba’ and its roots in patriarchy and sexual purity of women. The idea of ‘ahing yareppa’, which had an underlying meaning of having sexual intercourse, associated with “nupi chenba’ was introduced to the room. For the society, having spent a night with a man meant that the woman had sex on that night, whether she had it or not. This would come with a lot of stigma and shaming if she did not get married, even if the ‘chenba’ was against her will. In case of ‘chenba’ without consent, the discussion pointed out that the act of sexual intercourse, if happened, would be rape and the ‘chenba’ would be an act of kidnapping. Various cases wherein women were forced, physically or mentally, into submission to elope, especially in the interiors, were also discussed.
To this, a couple of men argued that ‘Chenba’ was not wrong in its true sense, instead it was a privilege that allowed both men and women to have their own choice. However, some women countered it by saying that the said choice should not be a privilege to begin with and ‘chenba’ should not be the deciding factor for someone to get married. They pointed out the harmful consequences of forced elopement and the idea of revoking consent at any point of time. Another argument for the legitimacy of ‘Chenba’ was it being an age-old tradition, which was nothing but an appeal to tradition fallacy.
At the end of the day, the short 3-act play brought about a discussion around the topic of sexual violence and impunity as a result of what the performance intended: to provoke.

State level Boxing Championship 2019 concludes

IT News

Imphal, Sept 23

State level Boxing Championship 2019 for Men and Women which begins from Sept. 17 concluded yesterday at  Boxing Arena, Khuman Lampak sports complex. Around 300 boxers from across the state took participated the Championship organised by Manipur Amateur Boxing Association (MABA) 

Team Imphal west District crowned overall team champion by earning 110 point , while Bishnupur Dist cornered runners up with 80 points.

Boxer Imphal west district player P. Kingson Singh won the junior men’s (2003-2004) title.  M.Kishan was adjudged men’s best boxer at the championship while Samim Banu (54 kg) manage the title best boxer.

L.Edison Singh of Imphal west 54 kg and Chanringwon khaleng 48 kg from Urkhul district were named as most promising players.

Ng. Dingko Singh Padmashri & Arjun Awardees and Boxing coach at CoE SAI Takyelpat attended as Chief Guest of the closing function while Ng. Tejkumar Singh, President  Manipur Amateur Boxing Association (MABA) presided over the function. Salam Imocha Singh Hon’ble Judge Family Court ,Thoubal District and M. Mudhusudon  MABA chief Advisor attended as guests of honour.

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Babysana death case JAC urges government to take 164 statement of the victim’s family at the earliest 

IT News

Imphal, Sept 10

JAC formed in connection with the dead of Babysana urged the government to take 164 statements of the victim’s family in front of the magistrate.

Speaking to media persons in a press meet held today at THAU ground Convener of the JAC Laishram Gyaneshwori said that Chief Minister already instructed IG Kailun and SP Meghachandra to take 164 statements of the victim’s family that is the father, mother and the uncle of the deceased.

Recalling the talks between the JAC and Chief Minister on September 5, she said that the movement was temporarily suspended because of the assurance given by the CM assuring to release the arrested JAC members without any condition, to handover the case to CBI and to give the 164 statement of the victim’s family in front of a Magistrate within 10 days.

Failing the demands she warned that the JAC will continue the movement and they will not meet with the CM any further. 

Gyaneshwori said that IG Kailun and SP Meghachandra still doesn’t take 164 statements of the victim’s family in front of the magistrate even after completion of 5 days. She urged the CM to look into the matter seriously and put pressure to IG and SP to take 164 statement of the victim’s family at the earliest. 

Questioning how many statements will be needed to find out the truth Gyaneshwori stated that even after 40 statements taken as told by SP Meghachandra in media, the investigating team still doesn’t find out the truth about the case of Babysana. 

She further said that they believed the government will handover the case to the CBI at the earliest by giving all the important related documents to them.  

Gyaneshwori further urged the people of Thangmeiband to light a lamp in front of their house till the case is handed over to the CBI as a solidarity and also to let the soul of Babysana to be in peace.

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Drug worth over Rs. 2 crore seized by Jiri Police

IT News

Imphal, Sept 8

A team of Jiribam district police seized a huge quantity of drugs worth over Rs. 2 crores while trying to smuggle in to Manipur at Jiribam yesterday evening.

Police source said that the drugs were loaded from Byrnihat in Meghalaya and were trying to smuggle to Myanmar. Manipur is a transit route for drugs and gold smugglers.

Report said that the seized drugs includes (2,04,72,750) Tramadol Hydrocloride (Rimdol-50) capsule 90,990 (strip 9099). The drugs were hidden inside iron poles loaded at an Ashok Leyland truck bearing registration No. AS 01JC – 2823.

The drugs were seized by a joint team of Manipur Anti Drug cell and Jiribam Police at around 7.30 pm yesterday. Driver of the truck Nongsaibam Raees @ Yaima (19) s/o N Tombi Shah of Yairopk Toupokpi Sabal Leikai, Imphal East has been arrested. The police are interrogating the driver to find out the owner of the drugs.

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