Over the past three decades human rights movements in India have persistently interrogated systems of criminal justice in the country. The concerns have ranged from addressing the problem of arbitrary detention during the emergency to constructing entire communities as criminal thereby justifying forced dispossession and/or mass violence. While overt violence by state actors and their complicity in violence by dominant private actors has been a major concern, there has also been the problem of the abdication by the state with respect to provision of the means for bare life to a majority of the people, the denial of the right to bare life compounding their vulnerability to a repressive rule of law. There is a widespread acceptance of the fact that the law is unequal especially in terms of access to and delivery of justice, inequality of process negating the fundamental guarantee of equality.
This collection of essays re-examines the field of criminology through an interdisciplinary lens, challenging in the process unproblematic assumptions of the rule of law and opening out avenues for a renewed and radical restatement of the contexts of criminal law in India. This collection is a significant step towards mapping the ways in which interdisciplinary research and human rights activism might inform legal praxis more effectively and holistically. The contributors are a diverse group – widely respected activists, bureaucrats, scholars, and professionals – who share concerns on criminal justice systems and the need to entrench human rights in the Indian polity.
Chapter 10: Communities, Gender and the Border: A Legal Narrative on India's North East
Communities, Gender and the Border: A Legal Narrative on India's North East
In the early hours of 11 July 2004, a young woman named Thangjam Manorama was allegedly raped, tortured and murdered by members of the Assam Rifles, who had arrested her a few hours prior. Protests against this heinous act took the character of a mass uprising, of which the Meira Peibies (literally, women torchbearers) were in the forefront. In an effort to justify their act, the Assam Rifles called Manorama an activist of the banned People's Liberation Army and said that she was killed when she was trying to flee from custody. The Meira Peibies and other civil liberties organisations remained undeterred. ...