Irom Sharmila completes 15 years of hunger strike against AFSPA

Written by Meghalaya Times. Posted in Front Page

DIMAPUR, Nov 01: A convention on Repeal AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) was organized at New Delhi on Sunday with the objective to bring demand of Repeal AFSPA in political priorities. This convention was organized on the eve of November 02 where Irom Sharmila, better known as Iron lady of Manipur, is completing 15 years of her hunger strike seeking repeal of AFSPA.
The Convention was attended by various eminent speakers that includes Neingulo Krom (Secretary General of Naga Peoples’ Movement for Human Rights), Babloo Loitongbam (Human Rights Activist from Manipur), Swami Agnivesh, Prof Nandini Sundar, Prof Deepti Priya Mehrotra, Ashok Agarwal, Henri from Forum Asia and others. Youths and other activists also attended the convention in large numbers and extended their support towards the cause.

This convention was organized by Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign (SSSC), Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR), Students Islamic Organisation (SIO), Bonded Labour Liberation Front, Just Peace Foundation (JPF), Forum Asia and Human Rights Alert. Those who participated also signed sheets to endorse the demand of Repeal AFSPA from all regions (North east and J&K) and release of Irom Sharmila.
Irom Sharmila, a woman from Manipur is completing 15 years of her hunger protest on November 02, 2015. She is observing fast as a form of protest since the year 2000 (when she was about 28 years old), and she had started it just after the Malom Massacre where Assam rifles had fired upon local civilians who were waiting at a bus stand in Malom, Imphal (Manipur) and all were killed. Irom decided to register her protest because incidents of torture and killings were common in Manipur and in the veil of the powers under AFSPA, nothing could be done against culprit security personnel. Irom sharmila started her fast and has not left it since then. She has only one demand - Repeal AFSPA, as it is AFSPA that is the main culprit because it provides extra ordinary powers to security personnel to operate in Manipur and other such areas and these powers have been misused widely.
AFSPA has provisions of shoot to kill mere on probability, but it does not stop here, instead it goes beyond and says that no case can be lodged against any security personnel without pre - sanction from central government. Sadly, in all such years, no approval was given by central government and despite hundreds of reported cases of fake killings, tortures and rapes, nothing could be done to punish the culprits.
As Irom Sharmila did not leave her fast, Manipur police registered a case against her under section 309 of ‘attempt to suicide’ and put her in jail. During her release from jail for a day in 2006, Irom Sharmila came to Delhi, paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat and later joined a fast at Jantar Mantar. Delhi Police also registered another case under same section of attempt to suicide in Delhi and matter went to Court.
Presently, Irom Sharmila is under arrest by Manipur Police and living her life in security ward of JLN hospital of Manipur. The case in Delhi is also still going on and Irom Sharmila appears before Delhi Court on Court notices and when Manipur Government becomes ready to produce her at Delhi.
Despite her fast for the last 15 years and government’s ignorance, even suppression through lodging her behind bars, her faith in democracy and non-violence has not been broken. She always smiles, and says: ‘I have faith in democracy. Government will listen one day’.
Sadly, government is not listening, and even one of her demand to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not been accepted yet. She thinks Prime Minister does not want to meet her as probably government has no reply for all her demands and questions about suppression of people through AFSPA.
This act is one of the most draconian one that is not only dangerous to people but even damaging the reputation of security forces and of world’s largest democracy that is advocating for UNSC seat.
Government’s own committees have recommended repeal of this act. Even many fake killings, rapes and cases of disappearances were not only reported but even proved, but till now government has not repealed this act. Many national and international human rights organizations have also raised their voice to demand repeal of AFSPA. State leadership of BJP in Manipur and PDP in J&K had favored to repeal of this act, but now they are silent.
The convention started with a statement of families of victims of Malom massacre.
Neingulo Krome, Secretary General of NPMHR, said, “AFSPA is a violation of Human Rights and if India is truly a democratic country then this Act should be removed immediately.”
At the end, it was resolved that demand to repeal AFSPA is a collective struggle which need to become reality to to protect human rights as well as democratic values. It was announced that this whole week is being observed in solidarity with 15 years of struggle of Irom Sharmila nationwide and at many places protests will take place. It was also told that in coming months, this movement will bring more voices together and will start a big movement to demand repeal of AFSPA.
(Newmai News Network)


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