Filmmaker returns Padma Shri award in protest against Modi's Citizenship Bill

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Aribam Shyam Sharma (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Aribam Shyam Sharma (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

New Delhi : Renowned Manipuri filmmaker Aribam Shyam Sharma came up with a decision that left India in a state of shock. On Sunday, the filmmaker returned his Padma Shri award, which he received in 2006, as a mark of protest against Modi government’s Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

“I am returning the Padma Shri award given to me by the government of India in solidarity to the voice of the people of the North East and Manipur who has been vociferously opposing the citizenship Bill,” said Sharma.

Also, he added that the bill is a threat to the small state like Manipur which has a population less than a district of Uttar Pradesh.

Most people in Manipur believe that the identity and culture of Manipur will be in danger, similar to the condition in Tripura state, if the Citizenship Bill becomes effective.

The filmmaker also appealed to his fellow senior citizens to join the movement against the Citizenship Bill. “There is no meaning of life when our future is dark. It pains me that the Government of India remained indifferent to the voice of the Northeastern people”, he said.

Upon Manipur government’s attempt to convince the Centre in adding a clause in the Bill to protect the indigenous people of Manipur, he said it would be an almost impossible feat to achieve when the Bill has been already been passed by the Lok Sabha.

Manipur CM N.Biren Singh, Sharma suggested that the Manipur government should outrightly oppose the Bill. 

Coming to Aribam Shyam Sharma's career, he has won several national awards for films such as ‘Imagi Ningthem’ (My Precious Son, 1981), ‘Ishanou’, and ‘Sangai – The Dancing Deer’. He is also credited for revolutionising cinema in Manipur during the 1970s.

To inform, people in Manipur also witnessed a general strike against the Bill that seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslims who fled religious persecution from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan and entered India before December 31, 2014. The strike was called by the recently-formed Manipur People Against Citizenship Amendment Bill (MPACAB), with representation from 66 organisations. Protesters burnt effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh at several places in Imphal valley, besides organising mass sit-demonstrations