In August 2016, after a 16-year hunger strike protesting the removal of the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA), civil rights activist and poet, Irom Sharmila broke her fast.
Her drive for change began in 2000, in response to the slaughter of ten people at a bus stand by the armed forces in a village called Malom. This incident came to be known as Malom Massacre.AFSPA(Armed Forces (Special Powers)Act), as it has been enforced in Manipur – often described as a ‘disturbed state’ – allows the military to execute anyone on the mere suspicion of terrorism. It has recently been claimed that there are well over 1528 people who have died in such Extra-Judicial killings carried out by the Armed Forces between 1979 and 2012. With this project, my aim was to understand the nature and scale of these fictitious clashes that are called ‘fake encounters’, keeping the landscape as a witness. By volunteering for the EEVFAM (Extra-Judicial Execution Victim Families of Manipur) – an organization formed by the widows of victims – I gained insight and gathered evidence about the situation at hand. By going through victims’ testimonies as well as witness accounts, I was able to shape my current perspective – a photo book of my personal experiences in Manipur between 2016-2018.