Burning Bright: Irom Sharmila and the Struggle for Peace in Manipur, Deepti Priya Mehrotra, Penguin,

Rs. 275.

Just for her sheer determination, Irom Sharmila can easily stake claim to the title of ‘Iron Woman’, having refused to swallow a morsel since November 2000 in protest against the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act. Force-fed through nasal tubes since then by the Government and kept in isolation, the seeming futility of her indefinite hunger strike has not weakened her resolve.

It was a chance email seeking women volunteers to double up as hospital attendant for Iron Sharmila that brought Deepti Priya Mehrotra in contact with the ‘satyagrahi’ in November 2006. Evidently impressed by her conviction, Mehrotra took up the task of telling not just the 37-year-old’s story but has used it as a launch pad to write about the web of violence that has been woven around the people of Manipur by the security forces and militants.

Given that there is very little mention of the Northeast in mainstream media, any effort to write about the region is welcome; more so, when it presents a people’s perspective since whatever information that does come out of the area is essentially security-related.

And, even as her book was hitting the stands, news trickled in of 22-year-old Chongkham Sanjit being killed by the police in a crowded market; bringing to focus not just the state of affairs in Manipur but also the disconnect between the region and mainstream India which remained indifferent to the stark images of a human rights violation.