Brother asks Kovilan Trust to present it after she fulfils mission

Irom Sharmila, the civil rights activist from Manipur who has been on a 12-year protest fast demanding that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) be repealed, will not accept any awards until she has succeeded in her mission, her brother Irom Singhajit said.

On Saturday, at a function organised in Kolkata, a trust had decided to confer the first Kovilan Smaraka Activist India National Award in the memory of Malayalam poet A.A. Ayyappan upon Ms. Sharmila.

However, Mr. Sighajit, who attended the function, returned the award and asked the organisers “to keep it in their custody and present it to Irom Sharmila herself when she has achieved her goal.”

The decision not to accept any awards was taken by Ms. Sharmila earlier this month.

On October 9, at a routine hearing for the extension of her custody by another fortnight, she had sought the permission of the judge to address a press conference. But the permission was denied and in protest, she took the decision not to accept any awards, Mr. Singhajit told The Hindu over telephone from Imphal.

“The Kovilan Trust had announced the award before October 9 which is why I attended the function. We appreciate the award and have asked them to keep it in their custody,” he said.

Ms. Sharmila started her hunger strike in November 2000, after the “Malom Massacre” — an incident in which 10 innocent persons were killed by personnel of the Assam Rifles.

She was arrested by the police and when her condition began to deteriorate, she was transferred to the Jawaharlal Institute of Medical Sciences where she is force fed, he added.

The law under which Ms. Sharmila is detained allows the police to detain her for a year, after which she is released.

As she refuses to break her world-record fast, she is again arrested and then produced in court every 15 days for the extension of her custody, Mr. Singhajit said. She has been the recipient of several awards including the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights in 2007 and the Rabindranath Tagore Peace Prize in 2010.