Noted Manipuri filmmaker, Aribam Syam Sharma, has appealed to the people of Northeast to stand united in the fight against the implementation of Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 in the entire region.
The 83-year-old filmmaker has always been vocal about the issue since the beginning when the Citizenship Bill was first introduced in the Parliament.
On February 3 last, he returned his Padma Shri award in protest against the Bill. He was given the award in 2006 for his contribution to Indian Cinema.
Sharma welcomed the fact that some northeastern states including Manipur, which have Inner Line Permit (ILP) system or are under the sixth schedule, are exempted from the purview of the Act.
“I am happy that ILP has been extended to Manipur. I give the credit of the victory to the people who have relentlessly struggled for it,” he said.
However, he expressed his deep concern over the prevailing situation in Tripura, Assam and Meghalaya.
“Many lives have been lost and many injured in protest against the new amendment law. I deeply mourn for those lost and pray for the rest who are going through tough times,” he said.
He has asked the government to give similar relief to the remaining states which are yet to be exempted from the Citizenship Law.
“I returned my award protesting against the proposed legislation of the Bill and implementing the same in the entire Northeast. As such, I reaffirm my stand to oppose the Citizenship Act,” he said.
The northeast should stand together to prevent the Act from implementing in the region and avoid turning the region into a dumping ground, he added.
Aribam Shyam Sharma is the doyen of Manipuri cinema. His film “Imagi Ningthem” (My son my precious) was the first Indian Film to receive the Grand Prix at the Festival des Three Continentes, Nantes. The film was acclaimed by the international community as a masterpiece.
Some of his internationally-acclaimed films include Sangai: The Dancing Deer of Manipur, which was declared the ‘Outstanding Film of the Year’ by British Film Institute at London Film Festival, 1989.
Another film Ishanou (The Chosen One) was officially selected for ‘Un Certain Regard’ section at Cannes Film Festival, 1991. In 2015, he was also conferred with the title “Jewel of Manipuri Cinema”.
He has many national awards under his belt. Sharma, who is also a music composer, was honoured with the title of Sangeet Ratna by Manipur Sahitya Parisad in 2008, for his contribution to Manipuri modern music.