“Whenever I felt hungry, I would press my tongue hard to my upper jaw and swallow my saliva”
“I have spent sleepless nights for year, due to hunger, so please come and join me against the AFSPA”
Sharmila, broke down, when released from jail on 19 August 2014. Her release and subsequent re arrest on 22nd August have once again put the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in Manipur┬á at the centre stage, with wide criticism against it, to abolish it.
In 2000, when 10 civilians were killed in Manipur by the Assam Rifles under the AFSPA, Irom Sharmila started her fast against the AFSPA. Since then she has been leading this fight against the army all alone, for 14 years.
After her release on Aug 19 she went on hunger strike again to continue her protest against the AFSPA, which is why she was re arrested with charges of attempt to suicide.
The AFSPA has led to many heinous crimes and violence in the north eastern regions and J&K. This act makes the army officials completely unaccountable for their actions, it also fails to describe what exactly a “disturbed area” is, where AFSPA is applied and relentlessly misused.
A bench headed by Justice Santosh Hegde against the Manipur encounter deaths, ruled that; none of the victims had any past criminal record. Another Justice Jeevan Reddy committee has clearly recommended the repeal of the harsh law. The army proposes that most of the human rights violation complaints against it are false, but this argument cannot be true, since most of the cases are investigated and tried in the army courts. The AFSFA is not only harmful to the very existence of democracy, but also against basic human rights.
Even after repeated request by many human rights activists, and struggle by Irom Sharmila for years, the central government has failed to revoke the AFSPA. There has been no support from any political party at the centre against this act. Last year Finance minister, P. Chidambaram expressed his helplessness to revoke the law because the army was against it. Irom Sharmila was offered a Lok Sabha ticket during the 2014 elections by two political parties, INC and AAP, but she declined entering politics.
In an interview to NDTV┬á she was asked if she would choose to get married or carry on her struggle. “Struggle” she replied. 14 years have brought a firm and gentle resolve.┬á there is a lot our politicians and leaders can learn from her.
In our country political parties are only eager to give tickets to these great people.