Insurgents demand a plebiscite but the climate of fear is likely to hassle the process.
Manipur has been plagued with political unrest for years now. In a context in which the democratic process seems seriously hampered, many insurgent groups opt for violence in their struggle for an independent state. The government’s reaction to the situation has been characterized by a high level of violence, in particular with the implementation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSA), which created a climate of retaliation and a feeling of impunity among army men. This further alienated the separatist outfits and the general population, which now lives in fear.
Mercy, our Community Correspondent in Manipur, has grown up in the midst of this conflict. When she joined IndiaUnheard, she was keen on documenting how common people were experiencing the political tensions in Manipur. Thus, she decided to investigate the plebiscite, a burning issue in Manipur. Indeed, insurgent outfits such as the United National Liberation Front, have been advocating for a plebiscite to decide whether Manipur should be independent or not for years, facing a strong refusal from both the Central and State Government. Caught in between, in a climate of fear, Manipuris hardly dare to voice their opinion.
“I was scared while making this video. All the officials I met warned me of the risks I was taking. Also, I met many people who were either refusing to talk in front of the camera or requesting anonymity, in fear of retaliation. In my opinion, the plebiscite cannot happen in an environment like this, with so much fear and suspicion,” explains Mercy.
In this video of UPS Manwan Awoora school, Kupwara, Kashmir, the community correspondent Pir Azhar shows us that there are nine classes for 250 students, and due to lack of space, the lower primary classes are held outside in the open. Also the school has only 7 teachers.
Houseboats are a major tourist attraction in Kashmir. History says that this tradition started in the 1800s and since then it has created a unique heritage in the tourism industry.