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The Oblivious Truth of Irom Sharmila And Her Hunger Strike of 12 years

By Abhijit Bhomia

29 October, 2012

Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign is observing 12 Article series to reflect 12 years of suppression of Irom Sharmila's fast. Irom Sharmila is completing her 12 years of fast on 5th November. This is the fifth in the series

“If Sharmila dies, Parliament is directly responsible,” she thundered at a gathering of journalists. “If she dies, courts and judiciary are responsible, the military is responsible… If she dies, the executive, the PM and President are responsible for doing nothing… If she dies, each one of you journalists is responsible because you did not do your duty…” these are the statements made by the Iranian nobel peace prize winner Shirin Ebadi on a trip to India in 2006 in support of Irom Sharmila Chanu.

Irom Sharmila, a poet, a social activist and a native of the ‘neglected’ state of Manipur and she is on hunger strike for 12 years now. Yes, twelve years, that is nothing in front of Anna Hazare’s fast of four days and still majority of Indians do not know about her and the cause she is fighting for. Irony, it is, that one person is getting so much media coverage and another person who is fighting for a similar cause is neglected by the government and most importantly by the media. She is fighting for the people of North East India and wants the repeal of AFSPA(Armed Forces Special Powers Act). The growing insurgency in Kashmir and North East India resulted in the inception of AFSPA. Citizens of these regions thought that now they would be safe from the militants but they did not know that atrocities by the men in uniform would follow soon. More than 20,000 people have been killed so far in Manipur alone, estimate the numbers of the whole North East.

Gandhi inspires her, and in this country of Gandhi, she is being jailed as she expresses her solidarity towards the Draconian law of AFSPA. She is not doing this for fame, but for the people of North East who are helpless and weak in front of the ruthless army. She has been fasting because this is the only weapon left with her and then she is being charged under ATTEMPT TO SUICIDE and is being jailed for a year and then police arrest her again after 2-3 days. Isn’t this what Anna Hazare is doing, and the police is not arresting him under the same charge. Double Standards.

The big Indian media houses boast about their ethics, where are those ethics when it comes to the coverage of Irom’s struggle? Do these media houses only want sky high TRPs and not highlight the news and development regarding to Irom’s hunger strike? Strong questions are left unanswered about ETHICAL media.

Leaving aside the double standards of the police and the media, let me talk about the government now. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh formed a committee in 2004 to look into the matter of AFSPA, the committee was headed by Justice Jeevan Reddy. The report by the committee has been submitted to the government but it has not made it public yet but the report is there with The Hindu and it clearly recommends the repeal of AFSPA as "the Act, for whatever reason, has become a symbol of oppression, an object of hate and an instrument of discrimination and highhandedness".

The report was submitted to the government years back but nothing has been done till now. If it has been proved that the law, instead of solving problems, has created problems then why hasn’t it been repealed? Why are they still silent? Why are the suppressing her and till when will they do? 12 years of ignoring the plea for humanity, isint that enough?

Abhijit Bhomia is a student at BITS, Pilani and Volunteer of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign. He can be reached at [email protected]




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