IROM CHANU SHARMILA
I am clueless as to how many of my friends would know about her but the netizens who have been supporting Anna Hazare who everybody, till a few days ago, has been hailing and supporting avidly through 'Click-It' campaigns and roused-full-of-spirit status updates on various social networking sites has taken up the cause of Irom who has also been given an appropriate nickname - "Iron Lady of Manipur".
For those who dont know, Irom is a civil rights activist who undertook a vow in 2000 to go on a political fast after the disturbing aftermath of Malom Massacre where 10 people in Malom a town in the Imphal Valley of Manipur waiting for their buses at a bus station were allegedly gunned down by the Assam Rifles, one of the Indian Paramilitary forces operating in the state. These included 62-year old woman, Leisangbam Ibetomi, and 18-year old Sinam Chandramani, a 1988 National Child Bravery Award winner.
An aroused 28 yrs old Irom sought the blessings of her mother and responded to an unresponsive Government by launching a hunger strike campaign demanding a repeal of AFSPA ( Armed Forces Special Powers Act ) in the entire North Eastern region of India wherever this law has been imposed.
Of course, it has been more than ten years since Irom has been fasting but no subsequent appropriate actions have been taken for her campaign except for arresting Irom for trying to commit suicide three days after her strike began. Added to it, a routine employment of a certain Jeevan Reddy Commission whose appeal for a repeal of AFSPA was indignantly rejected.
She is now being force fed through a nasogastric tube because of the imminent deterioration of her health, which has now become a part of her identity. Her body organs have begun to degenerate irreversibly, her menstrual periods have halted and the NG tube through which she is being force fed is painful.
If Anna Hazare's strike could have been met with success in a matter of four days, then why is it that a woman like Irom Sharmila not being metted with her political goal after a decade long strife of not eating and drinking orally or not meeting her mother as a part of her undertaking ? Is this democracy or demo-crazy? Why should one person suffer for an issue that is supposed to be a part of our nation which only is felt as One in a manner of unity in the rarest of moments, like after winning a cricket world cup.. Even when Nobel Laureates like Shirin Ebadi has vocally taken up Sharmila's stand against AFSPA, the government simply shouldnt ensconce themselves in their snug chairs turning a blind eye towards a depleting woman's plea.
I like my fellow believers truly render my support for this unflinching lady and her struggle for justice. To the spirit of Irom .. Isn't it the same government that had accused Sharmila once of suicide , very much responsible for her death if that were to occur as a result of an unrequited non violent fight against loss of liberty to a draconian law?
All this makes me think, have we really gained Independence ever in The Lands of Gandhi..