Monday, September 06, 2004

...Manipur seems like a scream to me now...

What is weird about my own reactions to images of violence and brutality is this - how easily the horror of it seems banal, as my mind provides a soft rock soundtrack as acoompaniement to men and women being flogged and brutalised . i watch a vcd of clips of the brutal state violence taht has been happening in manipur, images noticebale by their absence from the mainstream tv channels, and my mind plays 'america' by simon and garfunkel...
...all gone to look for....

.. and not so long ago, i used to cry in war movies...

The 'footage' in question was a collection of 11 clips on a vcd, got to sarai by a lokesh, with a background in the psu (progressice student's union), sourced through a manipuri friend , who was part of the protests, and who studies in delhi... (like thousands of other students from the north east coming every year to delhi, victims of the enforced centralisation thast makes them to come to the alien heart of their nation's capital to study, because all they've been given back home is the freaking curfew...)

another friend from the north east, pineng lhovum, made a film last year, in which she spoke about how good it was to be in delhi. and i was surprised - for being a 'chinky' in delhi is an experience of marginalisation and ridicule... two things never stop in delhi - sadak ki khudai or chinky ki chudai... but when i saw the clips from manipur, i realised why Delhi would seem like paradise to her, compared to back home...

i saw a man running down an eerily deserted street, in flames. i saw army and police whipping and flogging non-violent protestors to remove from them the gates of a government building. i saw tear gas and rubber bullets fired at point blank rrange. i saw young men, barely adult, made to whip each other by Indian Army soldiers and then to collectively roll in the mud, head over heels, with the police walking behind... it was ridiculously like watching public-school sadism -with sub-machine guns.

and all of this as a result of a legitimate protest to take away the army's power to do these horrendosu things....

the armed forces special forces act, whcich after the current round of repression, will probably continue, as it has for the last 46 years....

The Armed Forces Special Powers Act is a harsher version of the ordinance that Lord Linlithgow passed in August 15, 1942 to handle the Quit India Movement. In 1958, it was clamped on parts of Manipur, which were declared "disturbed areas." In 1965, the whole of Mizoram, then still part of Assam, was declared "disturbed." In 1972, the Act was extended to Tripura. By 1980, the whole of Manipur had been declared "disturbed." What more evidence does anybody need to realize that repressive measures are counter-productive and only exacerbate the problem?

Juxtaposed against this unseemly eagerness to repress and eliminate people is the Indian state's barely hidden reluctance to investigate and bring to trial cases in which there is plenty of evidence: the massacre of 3,000 Sikhs in Delhi in 1984 and the massacres of Muslims in Bombay in 1993 and in Gujarat in 2002 (not one conviction to date); the murder a few years ago of Chandrashekhar Prasad, former president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University student union; and the murder 12 years ago of Shankar Guha Nyogi of the Chattisgarh Mukti Morcha are just a few examples. Eyewitness accounts and masses of incriminating evidence are not enough when all of the state machinery is stacked against you.

- Arundhati Roy

None of this footage has been shown on any of the 'independent' media channels. and yet, much of it has been shot by 'authorised' camera/media people - shooting events from the side/pov of the armed forces...

someone has made the attempt to put this footage by anonymous authors together, and now hopefully this cd will be put on the web, by karim and others at sarai...

will the 'anonymity' (lack of known 'author' figure) of the footage take away from the horror of the violence it represents? will the circulation of this anonymous cd, without an author figure, lessen its claims to 'truth' value?

which brings me to an interesting question that aarti asked at the campaign against censorship, films for freedom workshop a few days ago...

why are documentary film-makers, so opposed to censorship, not amenable to the massive copy-cultural production (of music, for example) happening in a million basements in delhi alone... why don't they get a thousand cds of their films burned and circulate them in the public domain; which is the most effective way of circumventing censorship?

Aarti located their discomfort in the 'ghost of the author' that haunts documentary film-makers, who happen to be largely english-speaking elite types... the desire within us all to be authors and authorities at the same time, with our distinctive authorial voices making us 'authorised interlocutors' in any discourse....

The authorised interlocutor is someone who can jump into the
fray of the discourse and speak his/her mind without anyone doubting what
Arundhati Roy in the 'God of Small Things" called their 'Locusts Stand I' or,
what in legalistic latin is "Locus Standi" and in filmi Hindi is called
'Aukaad' as in "saale, apni aukaad samajhke baat kar, nahin to kaan ke neeche
yun bajaa dunga" - you get my drift.
- Shuddha

does the circulation of the anonymous manipur footage, outside the space of the 'authorised' media, let us think of a way in which anonymous, un-authored, non-authored texts/testimonies can be paid attention to/have their own weight, independent of the weight of the authorial name, when justice is measured in the balance...

is there a possibilty?

i am reminded of william gibson's latest novel, 'pattern recognition' , and the footage:fetsih:forum, which holds possibilties open not just for 'documentary'/testimonial un-authorship; but for 'creative'/fictional un-authorship too....
in pattern recognition, the footage:fetish:forum is a cult which develops around footgae posted anonymously on the web... footage that is anonymous not only in the absence of the name of its maker, but also in its absence of identifiable locale, or even time-period...

it is a compelling concept, in a compelling, provocative book, making us think of many things....

am attaching links to a q and a with william gibson...

http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/source/qa.asp


Five hours' New York jet lag and Cayce Pollard wakes in Camden Town to the dire and ever-circling wolves of disrupted circadian rhythm....

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