themcglynn.com

16 Nov

Irom And Her Sisters

 

By kunal@tehelka.com

SHARMILA

 

ILLUSTRATION: ANAND NAOREM

BY KUNAL MAJUMDER

US PRESIDENT Barack Obama’s visit eclipsed an epic moment in India’s history. On 4 November, 38-year-old Irom Sharmila marked a 10-year fast to protest the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that has been imposed in Manipur since 1961 and most of the Northeast since 1972. The State has ignored Sharmila’s vigil and the increasingly loud protests against AFSPA. By the government’s own admission, more than 20,000 people have ‘disappeared’ in Manipur since then. In Jammu & Kashmir, where AFSPA has been in force since 1990, activists claim that between 8,000 and 10,000 people have disappeared in the custody of army, paramilitary forces and the police. In 2009, the J&K government asked the Union home ministry for the prosecution of 458 cases of murder, torture and extreme violence by the armed forces. Irom Sharmila’s superhuman courage grows out of the despair of the thousands of Manipuri families that have been broken by these extra-judicial killings. Most of those who have disappeared are under 35, newly married and young fathers. Here we tell the stories of seven AFSPA widows from Imphal. 

The Last Time I Saw Him

 
 

1.

Nongmaithem Neena Devi, 30
Wife of NONGMAITHEM MICHAEL SINGH

 

2.

Ningthoujam Edina, 29
Wife of NINGTHOUJAM ANAND

 

3.

Khundarkpam Sana Devi, 35
Wife of K IBOYAIMA

 

4.

Yambem Ganga, 36
Wife of KHOMKHAM DEBAN

 

5.

Renu Takhellambam, 28
Wife of H THANGKHENMUNG HANGZO

 

6.

Hijam Nutan Devi, 30
Wife of HIJAM SANJOY SINGH

 

7.

Muttom Roni, 28
Wife of MUTTOM HEROJIT

**************************************************************


SHARMILA
Iron Lady of Manipur: Irom Sharmila has beeen under house arrest at the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences, Imphal for 10 years now
 

Iron Lady of Manipur:

Irom Sharmila has beeen under house arrest at the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences, Imphal for 10 years now

It is not easy to meet Irom Sharmila, let alone request for an interview. As her fast against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) completes 10 years, the government has turned stricter. So, TEHELKA passed on a questionnaire to her at the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences, Imphal, where she has been under house arrest for a decade. She replied three weeks later. Excerpts from the correspondence:

You have been fasting for the past 10 years demanding the repeal of AFSPA. Are you confident of your success?
My spiritual fight for the sake of justice will definitely succeed.

Do you think the government is not listening to you because you have selected a peaceful method of protest?
I don’t think so. A power-hungry authority never respects the democratic and rightful demands of citizens like me. They get subconsciously scared only when they see dead bodies. They try to suppress the inescapable protests by violent ruthless action.

SHARMILA
Living testimony: Copy of the replies sent by Irom Sharmila

Aren’t you afraid of death?
In this mundane world, living creatures are bound to die some day. So I don’t have any unnecessary fear for my life.

What inspires you to continue the struggle?
The present condition of my society inspires me.

How do you spend your day?
I usually spend time by walking, reading and writing.

What is your message for the younger generation that has grown up listening to your struggle?
I don’t want them to remain mute spectators while our lives are at the mercy of ruthless killers. Right to life is important. It is only then we can become healthy, wealthy and prosperous happy citizens of a civilised society.

When will you stop your fast?
I will stop fasting only when my demand is fulfilled.

Comments are closed.

© 2020 themcglynn.com | Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS)

Global Positioning System Gazettewordpress logo