Manipuri filmmaker, Aribam Shyam Sharma, recently returned his Padma Shri award, which he received in 2006, as a mark of protest against Modi government’s Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. Sharma said that he is returning the Padma Shri award given to him by the government of India to support the voice of the people of the Northeast and Manipur who has been strongly opposing the Citizenship Amendment Bill. ‘The Bill is a threat to small states like Manipur which has a population less than a district of Uttar Pradesh. The identity and culture of Manipur will be pushed to the brink of extinction, similar to that of Tripura, if the Bill becomes a law,’ the filmmaker remarked.
Reacting to 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 is not possible as the Bill has been already been passed by the Lok Sabha.
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.
Sharma 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 revolutionizing cinema in Manipur during the 1970s.