“I love my life. I never intended to commit suicide…I want to sense all the enjoyments of the world but only after the draconian AFSPA [Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act] is removed,” civil rights activist Irom Sharmila, who has been on a hunger strike for 14 years now, told a Delhi court on Wednesday. She faces trial on the charge of attempting to commit suicide during her 2006 fast unto death at Jantar Mantar here.
“What I was doing was a protest to gain our right to life. I was just demanding our fundamental right. AFSPA is against our right to life granted by the Constitution. I am very eager to live,” Ms. Sharmila told Metropolitan Magistrate Akash Jain.
Dressed in traditional Manipur attire and with a feeding tube taped to her nose, Ms. Sharmila said the big budget spending on the AFSPA could be utilised for betterment of the downtrodden.
But outside the court, the ‘Iron Lady of Manipur’ became teary-eyed on a question about her marriage and companionship. “My life, marriage… I want to experience the enjoyment. But only when they repeal AFSPA will I settle down. I have every kind of feeling. I want to bear kids. I am just a simple human being, I want to enjoy life and romance,” she said. “When they repeal AFSPA, I will eat something, right here, right now.”
As for the case against Ms. Sharmila, the court examined the then SHO of the Connaught Place station and the Investigating Officer. The magistrate suggested that she need not come to the court for every hearing and that her counsel could represent her, as the state incurred a lot of expenditure on bringing her to Delhi and taking her back, accompanied by a large posse of police.
However, Ms. Sharmila said she would like to attend the proceedings. “It is my case, my trial. I want to be present.” Thereafter, the court listed the matter for July 17 and 18.
The activist told The Hindu: “I have much hope from the Modi government. I want to meet him, influence him [on the issue of AFSPA repeal]. I want the government to see the divine side of the world, more about humanity.”
Ms. Sharmila said there are “so many anti-Modi people, so many hidden enemies of him. If we all adopt non-violence in governance, all enemies will turn into friends.”
The activist said, “When the governments can revoke stringent anti-terror laws like TADA and POTA, there is no reason for them to turn a blind eye to AFSPA.”