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Ujanmaidan- where 14 tribal women raped
Published on 11 Jan. 2011 12:37 AM IST
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The Assam Rifles raided the Ujanmaidan village of Khoyai sub-division situated in West Tripura in 1988 to search for the militants. During this operation 14 tribal women were raped.’
A joint statement dated 17th Jan 2005 of women’s groups against Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) stated that the Northeast India’s most widely known incidents of excesses are the horror of army torture and violence against the villagers of Oinam (Manipur) in 1987; the gang rape of the women of Ujanmaidan (Tripura) by security forces in 1988; the terror wreaked by the army in Assam during Operation Rhino in 1991; the shelling of the town of Ukhrul (Manipur) with mortars in May 1994; and December 1994 on Mokokchung (Nagaland), indiscriminate firing on civilians by armed forces personnel when a tyre of their own jeep burst in the town of Kohima (Nagaland) in March 1995; torture of the villagers of Namtiram (Manipur) in 1995; the army’s reign of terror in Jesami (Manipur) in January 1996; and the rampage of the village of Huishu (Manipur) in March 1996 and of course, most recently, the torture, rape and killing of Thangjam Manorama alias Henthoi (Manipur) 2004.
It was a usual day when myself and four colleagues decided to visit a village called Ujanmaidan in a very remote area in West Tripura district on January 5, 2011, more than two decades after the village witnessed most horrific day when 14 of its women were raped by jawans. At around 12 noon we reached a hillside where the motorable road came to an end. Villagers informed us that Ujanmaidan is around 3 kms away and we have to trek for about two hours to reach the village.
On reaching the village, the initial picture I saw is the collapsed school building with two of its students standing in front of it with two dao (machete) in their hands. I asked what happened to the school and why are not studying. After initial hesitation, the students talked in their native Kok Borok language. Their words were translated to me and I discovered that teacher comes only once in a month as it is too difficult for the teacher to commute to this remote village. There is only one primary school in the village that accommodates about 65 households and there are about 60 school going children in the village. I also saw a small makeshift kitchen in the school campus and when I peeped inside I found two kids playing there.
As we reached the house of one of the villager, inquisitive eyes surrounded all of us. This is probably the first time they found someone wanted to know about some ‘horror’ took place decades ago. An elderly woman informed that during those days (1988s) security forces would visit the village for counterinsurgency operation and villagers were asked to vacate their house. The vacated houses were used by the security forces as their shelter. She informed that women were raped almost everyday. It was very common. But it was the mass gang rape of 7 women that was paid bit of attention. She said most of the victims were recently married and one girl was unmarried. The whole village was shaken by the incident. The husband of one of the victim informed that everyone was so much traumatized that no one could realize about what to do. Later the political leaders were informed about the incident and the matter was discussed in the assembly. No one knows if any investigation took place or if the perpetrators were punished. One man informed that rupees fifteen thousand was paid as compensation after two years.
At the end of the day we felt that the village has been kept remotest of the remote area in order to deny justice to those women who were brutally assaulted. Unfortunately we could talk to any of the women as they were out for work in the paddy field. We didn’t disturb their work as it is the only way for their survival in a place where drinking water is not available.
As we were trekking down we found a teacher of the collapsed school. I asked why he is not doing his duty regularly. He answered in a sober voice that he is sixty two years old and it is difficult for him to trek for every day in order to attend the school. I was surprised as by sixty two years of age he must be enjoying his retired life. The teachers gave a sweet answer to my surprised. He said, ‘in certificates, I am still fifty two years old’. I was set aback as the school will not be opened everyday for next eight years or till he retires voluntarily.
(Anjuman Ara Begum,,)

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