Irom Sharmila: ‘We need peace, not violence’
Her protest is against the ‘repression going on in Manipur and against the State violence where innocent lives are taken under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA)’
Souzeina Mushtaq Delhi
A Delhi court on Monday, March 4, framed charges against the social activist Irom Sharmila Chanu for allegedly attempting to ‘commit suicide’ under Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code. She was charged for sitting on a fast in Delhi in 2006, when she was picked up and arrested by Delhi police in a late night raid.
It’s been thirteen long years of her fast against a draconian law. Irom Sharmila had launched her fast unto death in November 2000, when ten innocent civilians were shot and killed by a rampaging Assam Rifles in Malom, a town in the Imphal Valley of Manipur. Since then she has been forcibly fed through ‘nasogastric intubation’ – through the nose.
She was produced before the Metropolitan Magistrate, Akash Jain, who framed the charges against her. Irom refused to plead guilty saying that “her struggle is non-violent”.
“I am just a simple woman who wants to follow the non-violent principle of Gandhiji, the father of the nation,” said the 40-year-old fighter from Manipur. She told the judge that she values life, and never intended to commit suicide.
"I love life. I do not want to take my life but I want justice and peace.” She also said that her protest is against the “repression going on in Manipur and against the State violence where innocent lives are taken under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).”
Before being taken away to Manipur Bhawan, Sharmila was found sitting outside the courtroom, wearing a white Shawl and orange phanek, where some journalists managed to talk to her. When asked why she was continuing with her fast, Irom said, “I am doing this for the whole people of the society and the other AFSPA affected states, like Kashmir. AFSPA should go”
‘My demand is for justice. Our democratic leaders should hear my non-violent protest’
“My demand is for justice. We need peace, not violence. Our democratic leaders should hear my non-violent protest,” she said.
One journalist asked her whether she wants to continue with the protest as the government does not seem to be listening to her. Irom replied: “Revolution will take time… I am a human being who wants peace and justice but I am against the government which uses violence as a means to govern.”
Outside the Patiala Court premises in Delhi, students and activists from various organisations, including Manipuri students, had gathered to show their solidarity with the Irom Sharmila and her protracted struggle. The students were wearing T-shirts with Sharmila’s symbolic picture, carrying placards, and shouting slogans against the Indian government and against AFSPA.
‘Why aren’t they implementing the Justice Verma Committee’ recommendations on AFSPA and rape, instead of harassing her?’