After 10 years:
The indefinite hunger-strike of Irom Sharmila against the AFSPA
Will complete its 15th year soon
The state impunity on violence against our own people continues till date
Irom Sharmila, since she was a teenager has been demanding removal of armed forces from India’s North-East for last 15 years. The country and in fact the whole world has recognized her struggle and sympathized with her demand. But neither central government nor state government ever tried to have an open dialogue with her regarding this issue. In the past, we have seen government talking to the armed insurgents but they never have a dialect with Irom Sharmila as they do not have answers to her simple questions.
15 years back, Irom Sharmila has started her fast in Manipur on 4th November after a heinous act of violence. The government has never bothered to address the issue Irom sharmila has been raising. Instead of that, she has been forcefully fed through her nose all these years just to keep her alive.
In these 15 years, she hasn’t eaten anything from her mouth. She stays in a secluded room inside the hospital where nobody can meet her without govt. permission. She has several cases against her in Delhi for which she has to travel to the capital occasionally.
Irom Sharmila has her morals high despite the extreme physical pain and torture. She stands strong with her questions, posing a huge challenge before the state. Her every passing moment is a protest.
Her struggle is to protect the human rights of the common people and uphold the democratic values. It is our duty to take her struggle to its culmination. In this respect, some organizations like:- Khudai Khidmatgar, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), Delhi Solidarity Group (DSG), Socialist Party(India), Punjab Sanjhewal, PUCL, SSSC, CNDP, have tried to express their solidarity with Irom sharmilaji and also with this concerned issue.
Vimal Bhanot, Sundaram, Kamla Yadav, Anjum, Faisal and Khudayi Khidmadgar’s activists from Delhi & Tamilnadu did a day long fast.
Activists like Dr. Uma Chakraborty, Madhu Prasad, Advocate and woman rights activist Khadijaji, Nadeem from Delhi Solidarity Group, Sanjeev Kumar from Delhi Forum, Dr. Sunilam from Samajwadi Samagam, had visited the Samta Sthal and expressed their solidarity with the Iron lady and also tried to salute her constant and unbroken resistance.
NAPM Conveners said that “the people or activists, who are sitting here in solidarity are the people, who has been supporting Irom Sharmilaji and her cause, should try to spread her message of abolishing or nullifying the AFSPA. And after, Mahatma Gandhi, Irom is the only person who has been fasting for the longest time and she is the best example of using Gandhian ways against the states atrocity”. In the same respect, Sundarumji from CNDP, had tried to condemned the atrocity of state by adding Justice Verma Committee’s repelling point which emphasizes that army men shouldn’t be allowed to take cover under AFSPA in the cases of sexual offences.”
As it’s a need of hour to stand together and express our solidarity against all the state atrocities. We all condemn these types of atrocities and also demand a total revocation of AFSPA from the entire North-East and Kashmir at the earliest!
Ms Irom’s hunger strike is one of the longest-known anywhere, according to rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch Her goal, the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA), is still as distant as it was on that day fifteen years ago when the senseless killing by the army of ten civilians waiting at a bus stop in Malom had stopped her from breaking the fast she had been observing that Thursday, as she did like a good Hindu every Thursday, in honour of the goddess Lakshmi.
In the fifteen years of her remarkable, peaceful protest, much has changed. When she began her fast, more than 2,000 women sat with her in relay hunger-strikes. Today, the interest is cursory at best. It is the law that has caused her to go on her heroic hunger-strike – she will happily eat again, she has said, once Manipur is free of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act but only then – and it is the law, section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, that is treating her as a criminal, forcing her to be fed through a Ryle’s tube, remanding her to a hospital, demanding her presence in court from time to time.
With armed conflict against a more powerful state an option of diminishing returns, Irom’s Gandhian strategy seems to provide the only ray of hope-if she lives through it.
Irom Sharmila Chanu (born 1972) is the face of the Manipuri protests against the savage Armed Forces Special Powers Act in force in the state, and military excesses and atrocities. In November 2000, Sharmila went on a fast-unto-death, protesting against the killing of 11 civilians in Malom. The government promptly arrested her for attempted suicide. Since that day, she has been in the security ward of a government hospital, force-fed through her nose. Although greatly weakened, Sharmila refuses to break her fast.
Irom Sharmila Chanu lost her father in 1980 and her eldest brother in 1997. When this sensitive women volunteered her services to the Justice Suresh’s People’s Tribunal of Justice in October 2000, she was witness to the testimony of Mercy Kabui of Lamdam, who had been raped by state forces’ personnel in front of her father-in-law. The shock and turmoil of this experience turned her personal tide in November 2000, when she went on a fast-unto-death, protesting against the Malom massacre in Manipur, where Assam Rifles opened fire, killing 11 civilians. Her demand remains that the intemperate Armed Forces Special Powers Act, a virtually extralegal measure in force in Manipur, be repealed. On the third day of her fast, she was arrested on charges of attempted suicide. Irom’s fast, which she steadfastly refuses to break, has brought the issue of human rights’ violations into the public domain, sparking off a cloudburst of protests and reactions by human rights organizations. She remains in the security ward of the government hospital in Imphal. Nasogastric tube feeding started in November 2000, and continues, despite her absence of cooperation. She is only 32 years old, but has stopped menstruating, is appallingly weak, and her locomotive capacities have worsened over the years. Her family is distraught and helpless in the face of her determination. Two women who were inspired to follow Irom’s fast-unto-death were persuaded to withdraw, since they have children. Irom continues to fast alone-peacefully resisting, from her bed, the extremely violent reality of Manipur today.
South Asia | India