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Renowned Manipuri filmmaker returns Padma Shri to protest Citizenship Bill

Internationally acclaimed film maker from Manipur Aribam Syam Sharma on Sunday announced to return the Padmashree awards as part of showing solidarity to the ongoing public protest against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016.

india Updated: Feb 03, 2019 15:46 IST
Sobhapati Samom
Sobhapati Samom
Hindustan Times, Imphal
Aribam Syam Sharma,Manipur,India news
Aribam Syam Sharma(HT file photo)

Internationally acclaimed film maker from Manipur Aribam Syam Sharma on Sunday announced that he was returning the Padmashree awards in solidarity with the ongoing public protests against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016.

Addressing reporters at his Imphal residence this afternoon, renowned film director and composer Syam said the people in Manipur need protection.

Saying that the state has only one or two MPs in a house of 500 plus members, he questioned what voice can the northeast have in Parliament.

“They should respect us as a state - small or big. It should not be counted on population basis. I raise this because the Union of India is made up of states,” he said. “When the northeastern states jointly represent or present something in the government, they should consider it and if they do not consider, naturally we have to oppose.”

“So, as part of showing solidarity, I decided to return the award,” says the 83-year-old prominent filmmaker who debuted in the Manipuri film scene as an actor in the first Manipuri film ‘Matamgi Manipur’ in 1972.

Late president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam had conferred the Padmashree award to the noted filmmaker for his contribution to Manipuri cinema and world of films in 2006.

Manipur has been witnessing continuous public movement against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill after the Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on January 8.

People staged sit-ins against the Bill during the day while torch rallies were held in the evening demanding the withdrawal of the Bill.

Similarly, a delegation of political parties from Manipur has urged Union Home affairs minister Rajnath Singh “to incorporate a safeguarding clause for the protection of the indigenous people of northeast region in general and the state of Manipur in particular in the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill before its passage in Rajya Sabha.”

A memorandum was submitted to the Union minister in this regard on Thursday. Manipur Chief Minister N Biren and Manipur BJP president K Bhabananda led the political parties delegation.

Last month, the Manipur cabinet observed that the population of the state, which has a large number of ethnic groups each with unique dialects, customary laws and practices, is only about 0.2 per cent of the whole country’s. “Adequate constitutional protection is necessary to protect this small indigenous population,” said a statement released by the CM’s secretariat in Imphal recently.

First Published: Feb 03, 2019 15:32 IST