During one of our BGS classes, professor Ramnath a.k.a Swamiji suddenly asked us to submit an assignment on what we think freedom means to us. It should be of our own perspective, and we were shown a couple of documentaries by the notable Amar Kanwar himself who came personally to our campus for the screening. And so i sat in front of my computer the following day, trying to recall what was shown to us... decided to write my own version of what i consider is a definition of Freedom.... it was a very bold and unorthodox move as i did not write much relating to the documentaries we saw... but wonders of wonders, i got the highest mark in our batch! :))
Given below is the assignment that i submitted....
Coming from the troubled North-east, the very word “Freedom” has a complete different meaning. Born under the sounds of gunfire and air raids, brought up running from one hide-out to the other, through thick over grown forests and caves, at the same time every parent trying to convince their children that there is nothing to worry about surely has made a deep impact on me about my forefathers and the freedom one has in order to live, eat and sleep.
There is no greater pain and anger a man can feel when the territory he claimed to have owned all this time is taken over by an alien force, brutally. And the voice of the protest is killed by the sounds of gun-fire that cuts through the very essence of struggle. No questions asked, no answers sought. Any individual that dared to stand up against the conqueror is terminated immediately, thus setting an example to the other protesters that their struggle is, and will always be, in vain.
But the spirits of freedom will never die. It cannot be killed by mere bullets. Stories of bravery passes down from one generation to the other, through the earliest form of communication man has invented. Such stories continue to fuel the hearts of every little voice that dares to protest against anything.
Normalcy returned to my state Mizoram in the year 1986 after the Mizoram Accord was signed between Mr.Laldenga of the Mizo National Front and the Indian Government, thus bringing to an end one of the fiercest under-ground separatist groups the North-east has ever witnessed. I have longed come to accept the fact that I am an Indian citizen and that, in times of trouble I am ready to lay down my life for my Country - India. But events that has happened in the past still haunt me, and the anger I have hasn't completely died down. Laying down one’s life for a cause is noteworthy, but how does one feel when no one knows that such a thing has happened in Mizoram. When your very existence itself has been erased completely from the face of this Earth, is there really a need to carry on fighting then? When the rest of the Country is completely blind and deaf about what actually happened during the so called freedom struggle of the 60’s. When hundreds of my brothers were massacred by the Indian Army just because we all “look alike” and they could not differentiate between who’s a separatist and who is not. When hundreds of my sisters were brutally raped by the jawaans in uniform. When lands and houses were mindlessly burnt down by the Army because they believe the “rebels” were staying there. Of course the “rebels” are staying there. It is their home after all. To them, the only thing on their mind is, “We were never ever a part of any Rulers or Dynasty that has ruled over the rest of India, except for the British. We were happily minding our own business this side of the World. Why this now? Why the aggression? Why are you killing us? Why are you raping our women and children?” Infact, nobody knows that Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram and my dear city, is the ONLY Indian city to be bombed by the Indian Air Force in 1966. Bombing an entire city itself is not only cruel, but diabolical. And do we read about this in the newspapers or history books? No. Why? I don’t know.
In other parts of India too, we had heroes, heroes who laid down their lives fighting for a cause they believe in. Commander Pratap Salve and Shankar Guha Niyogi who were killed while defending the basic rights of the oppressed in Gujarat and Chhatisgarh. They will forever be remembered by the people they fought for, and also the rest of the Country because they were all over the news. But what about those who laid down their lives in the North-east? Forget the names, people don’t even know what those 7 sister-states are. I have come across so many people who have no idea what or where Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradeshetc are. They always ask me if I am a Chinese. They not only ask, but stare.
Still, at least I have what my fore-fathers never had, Freedom.
I have Freedom.
The Freedom to walk anywhere I feel like without getting shot by the security forces.
The Freedom to play football without fear of tripping over a land-mine.
The Freedom to drive around in my car without the fear of a bomb being dropped on me from the skies.
The Freedom to marry a beautiful Mizo girl without the fear of an Army man raping her. That is Freedom to me.