In August 2016, after a 16-year hunger strike protesting the removal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) 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 inordinate strike came to be known as Malom Massacre.
AFSPA, as it has been enforced in Manipur – often described as a ‘disturbed state’ – allows the military to execute anyone on the meresuspicion of terrorism. It has recently been claimed that there are well over 1528 individuals who have lost their lives in such extrajudicial killings between 1979 and 2012.
With this project, my aim was to understand the nature and scale of these fictitious clashes that are often called ‘fake encounters’, considering the landscape as witness. By volunteering for the EEVFAM (Extra Judicial Execution Victim Families Association Manipur) – an organisation formed by the widows of deceased – I gained insight and gathered evidence about the situation at hand. By going through available testimonies and witness accounts, I was able to shape my current perspective – a photobook of my personal experiences in Manipur between 2016-2018.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Rohit Saha (b. 1990) is a visual artist from Calcutta. He works with photography, illustration, and animation to narrate stories. Rohit did his Bachelor’s in Multimedia with specialization in Animation from St Xavier’s College, Calcutta and subsequently completed his Master’s in Photography from the National Institute of Design, Gandhinagar. He was awarded the Magnum Foundation’s Social Justice Fellowship in 2018.