Government Inaction on Irom Sharmila's Fast Is An Affront To Democracy
By Concerned Citizens
20 July, 2012
An Open Letter to Chief Justice of India
To, Chief Justice of India
Kind Attn: Sh. S. H. Kapadia
Dear Sir, We are writing this letter to you with my faith in judiciary and deep pain in my heart. The pain is there because as a citizen of this democracy, we would like to have evry right to be heard and to raise our voice.
By this public letter, we want to raise our voice before you (before the highest institution of law in my country) as the issue about which we are requesting, is associated with the interest of public by and large and thus your intervention will be helpful in protection of law as well as in establishing and maintaining our faith in constitution and its values.
We are talking about Irom Sharmila, a lady who is domicile of Manipur and who is observing a hunger protest since last 11 years (since the year 2000). The objective is to register the grievance against human rights violations in Manipur and the demand is to repeal the AFSPA (Armed forces special power act).
The lady has every right to register and to protest as she is associated with the people of Manipur who faced the ill effects of this draconian law. However, through this letter, we would like to make it clear that like in every other such protests, government always try to come with solution including visits, negotiation, reviews, public debates and hearings, referandum etc; however in this case/demand, no such steps have been taken from the side of government yet.
It has also to be noted that some human rights activists have submitted petitions before NHRC (National Human Rights Commission) , but NHRC disposed off almost all such petitions and replies that the matter is political.
We, the citizens of India, who understand the issue, may be divided in two parts , one is the indians who support AFSPA, another is the indians who oppose AFSPA. But still, both of these categories supports Irom Sharmila on democratic and humanitarian grounds and criticize government/ courts/ NHRC because no concrete steps have been taken by such responsible agencies/instituions.
I believe that the ongoing fast of Irom Sharmila is the symbol of her faith in democratic values and non violence. The fact that the Government has not taken any positive steps also hurts us and our faith in democracy.
We would like to bring to your kind attention these facts:
· She is a human rights activist and has been fighting not for the cause of one individual or herself, but for the society as a whole . The charge of “ attempt to suicide ” is disgraceful. · She is charged under “ attempt to suicide ” and facing 'arrest' for this attempt. Every time she move to court and repeat her statement for not to break her fast and her arrest extended. Is it right to provide order of 'arrest' for the same charge repeatedly?
· Sharmila's fight is based on non violence. She talks about peace, love and non violence in her each message. But the Government has ignored her. In these 11 years, no parliamentary delegation or all-party representative group was ever sent to Manipur. There hasn't even been any continuous approach of communication.
· NHRC has also not arranged any official visit of members of this institution to meet Irom Sharmila and people of Manipur.
· The meeting procedure is also very difficult. It is, unlike, as in all other cases of suicide attempt or as in case of an ordinary prisoner. She has been charged under the attempt to suicide but doesn't forced solitary confinement increase the chances of suicide?
· She is not allowed to meet the public . When other prisoners charged with the same or more serious charge are allowed, then why not her? It violates the Right to equality before law. is it not violating Article 19 under which she has right to freedom of speech, peaceful assemble, move freely.
· The suppression of a non-violent voice may discourage people from using this method of protest and will encourage violent ways.
· It has been seen that government has a practice to make efforts for negotiation and to take action and to initiate a process when any such fast has been organized in New Delhi in past, however government has not approached to Irom in spite of her 11 years long fast. Is it not the violation of right where it is told that 'The state shall not descriminate against any citizen on the basis of caste, religion, race , place of birth etc'
· Many national/international agencies, eminent persons like Nobel peace prize winners, Padma awardees, Megsaysay awardees, many social activists and intellectuals and general public have been raising this issue. In view of this suppression by the Government, and the necessity to protect the values of humanity and democracy, I request here to you (Chief Justice, Supreme Court of India) for protection of human rights.
The issue has not only appealed to the general public but has become known on an international scale as well. I request you
· To issue notice to the Government of India on the issue
· To constitute a committee of retired/sitting judge, human rights activists, parliamentrians to submit reports on this issue and review condition
· To make Irom Sharmila free
· To advise NHRC to arrange an official visit of members of NHRC at Manipur to meet Irom Sharmila
We hope that our faith in this institution will be maintained by the actions of the institution in favor of protection of human rights in this case.
An appeal by: Ravi Nitesh, Devika Mittal, Aditya Prakash, Pankaj Pathak Mission Bhartiyam New Delhi E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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