Effects of a conflict linger differently on different people. The following excerpt from my book, Mother, Where’s My Country?, is a story of struggle, loss, lack of closure, and denial of memory and justice. The book and excerpt are set in the northeast Indian state of Manipur, a gritty landscape.
When I first started exploring life in Manipur, I wanted to understand the notion of despair here because of the existence of what’s called the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). Since 1980, the act has given security forces unbridled powers—including the authority to arrest and shoot a citizen on mere suspicion and to search property without a warrant. It also protects soldiers from trial and punishment without the sanction of the central government.
The story captures life in a state where midnight raids by security forces are not unusual, although they occur now less frequently than they used to. Children walk to school amid guns while “What to do if you are raped” booklets circulate in markets.
Over the past nine years, I have conducted close to 200 interviews, scrutinized dozens of documents and court testimonies, revisited places and people, and repeated numerous questions. The excerpt here relies on exhaustive interviews conducted over days with two women, whose identities I have protected. These women have broken their silence; we are their witnesses.
Read the Excerpt from Mother, Where’s My Country? published in Women Under Siege.