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Updated: October 23, 2010 10:56 IST

10 years on, ‘Iron Lady’ refuses to end her fast

Iboyaima Laithangbam
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A file photo of Irom Sharmila.
PTI
A file photo of Irom Sharmila.

On November 2, Irom Sharmila will complete 10 years of her fast demanding repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, in Manipur.

The protest started on November 2, 2000. Upset at an “encounter” at Mallom here, in which 10 innocent persons including a middle-aged woman were mowed down by 8 Assam Rifles personnel, Ms. Sharmila began her fast. Two days later, she was arrested on the charge of trying to commit suicide.

The law allows authorities to detain her for one year in one-go. At the end of every year she is released. However, instead of going home, she continues fast, and the police to re-arrest her within 48 hours. In fact, a room in the J.N. Hospital here was converted into a sub-jail for lodging her.

Ms. Sharmila was honoured by South Korea with the country's highest human rights award. Recently she was given the Rabindranath Tagore award, carrying Rs. 51 lakh in cash and a citation. Despite appeals by many, she has refused to break her fast.

The Manipur government withdrew the AFSPA from seven Assembly segments on August 12, 2004. However, this gesture failed to satisfy Ms. Sharmila. She wants says she will continue her fast until the Act is repealed completely in all areas. But the government feels that if the Act is repealed, rebels may feel emboldened.

Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, who is in charge of the Home portfolio, has already said the government may be constrained to reimpose the AFSPA in these Assembly segments as the rebels are taking undue advantage of its gesture. Besides, the Army wants the Act retained to take on foreign-trained militants.

To mark the completion of 10 years of her fast, the Just Peace Foundation (JPF) is planning functions to honour the “Iron Lady.” However, the government is keeping a watchful eye what with Congress president Sonia Gandhi scheduled to visit Manipur in the first week of November. The police, fearing a law and order problem, have already clamped prohibitory orders in trouble-prone areas.

The JPF is planning a demonstration on October 24. This will be followed by paintings on Ms. Sharmila's campaign and seminars. There will be a music programme on October 5.

Yes she is the Iron lady. But whatever she does is not for a prestigious Prize. She just wants the Unlawful Act/Draconian Act, inhuman AFSPA repealed and her people treated as Human beings. I dont understand why this Act which does't serve the purpose, is still imposed.

from:  Ningthoujam R.C
Posted on: Nov 8, 2010 at 15:49 IST

Let Kashmiris derive inspiration from her and the mother of Cap.Vivek Kohli that what does it takes to protest for a genuine grievances if any in a Democratic society

from:  Navshesh
Posted on: Oct 24, 2010 at 14:17 IST

10 years of fasting for peace!!!! She deserves the Nobel Peace prize. Hope the world takes notice and most importantly, the Indian authorities make realistic, practical decisions to repeal the act and come up with effective solutions for peace in Manipur.

from:  C.P.Aaryaan
Posted on: Oct 23, 2010 at 22:49 IST

Irom Sharmila doesn't have an email. India treats her as a common criminal while regional national and international bodies felicitate her with awards. She can be contacted at the Security Ward, Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Science, Porompat, Imphal East, Manipur 795001. It is true that the Army demands retention of AF(SP)A for Manipur and J&K but it does not want it against the greatest threat to Indian Democracy - Naxalites, nor does it demand it for actions taken against foreign trained terrorists in Delhi or Mumbai on the grounds that they do not want to use the act against their own people. They were unable to convince the Jeevan Reddy Commission, the Second Administrative Reforms Commission or the Manipur Human Rights Commission that soldiers in a democracy require absolute immunity from investigation for any actions committed while on patrol in those areas of India written off for the past fifty years as disturbed. These reports the first commissioned by the current PM, the second led by the Law Minister Mr Moilly, the third constituted in response to India's requirements to abide by international law have all reported against continuation of AF(SP)A. In Cabinet an increasingly isolated Sri Chidambaram has tried to implement these reports to abolish or repeal AF(SP)A to make it more humane, but unless ordinary Indian Citizens are prepared to support him the army view will prevail. On a personal note, I am Irom Sharmila's fiancee but the Manipur Home Secretariat has yet to provide me with a permit to enter Manipur and to visit Sharmila in her cell. I have today appealed directly to Sri Chidambaram to show us some decency, even if he is unable to enforce the determinations of all the best legal advice and have AF(SP)A repealed that he will at least allow us to meet on compassionate grounds, one meeting. And if the Hindu will allow publication of this note I ask the Indian people also to intervene if not for the just cause of repeal of AF(SP)A then allow Irom Sharmila to have one meeting with her fiancee to show that Indians are not entirely devoid of common human decency. I am resigned that she may die in prison and I will not do anything to weaken her resolve. But if India really were as democratic as it pretends should I really have to beg like this to visit my fiancee whom you agree has no committed no crime and has remained a loyal and true satyagrahi in the finest and noblest traditions of Indian Mahatmas. Give me the permissions and I will fly to her within 24 hours.

from:  Desmond M Coutinho
Posted on: Oct 23, 2010 at 21:31 IST

I think she has exeeded Gandhi and Mandela in her stature. A look at her blessed face tells us who we actually are.

from:  gowhar fazili
Posted on: Oct 23, 2010 at 16:59 IST

In the era of selfishness "Irom Sharmila" comes out as Iron symbol. If we don't have courage to follow Gandhian path and instigate the protest like her, at least we should extend our helping hand and warm wishes with her. Let us spread out the protest upto Kashmir. Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi are examplery and Iron figures fighting for right cause opposing their own administration.

from:  Puneet Gupta
Posted on: Oct 23, 2010 at 14:53 IST

Really Ms. Irom Sharmila is an iron lady of this yug. I hope she will also be awarded the Mahatma Gandhi International Shanti award. And I also want to know her e-mail address.

from:  JAIKISHOR RAJUARIA
Posted on: Oct 23, 2010 at 12:38 IST

Really the lady is iron one

from:  Imran
Posted on: Oct 23, 2010 at 09:09 IST

Demonstration of sheer grit n determination......

from:  Dr.K.Amritha
Posted on: Oct 23, 2010 at 07:47 IST
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