A day long fast was organized in Delhi on the call of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign (SSSC), Association of Protection of Civil Rights (APCR), Lok Raj Sangathan (LRS) and Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIOI) to support Irom Sharmila and to demand repeal of AFSPA. Many people participated and observed the hunger strike.
A press release jointly issued by SSSC, APCR, LRS and SIO said their supporters in Mumbai, Panipat, Lucknow and even from Korea informed some people observed fast at their workplace and home to express solidarity with Irom Sharmila.
They said Irom Sharmila (42), who was on March 14, 1972, inspired so many people across the world through her non-violent struggle, which she started 15 years ago at the age of 28. Organisers also submitted memorandum to Prime Minister of India demanding AFSPA repeal and immediate release of Irom Sharmila, quashing charges of section 309 against her lodged in Manipur and Delhi. Memorandum also reminded of the BJP state leadership promise to repeal AFSPA before parliamentary elections. “We all believe that democracy must listen to the voice of people and must not ignore such demands that are largely towards the objective of better governance and more humane society,” the organisers said. They expressed hope that more and more people would also come in support of the demand so together they would raise demand more strongly and loudly with peaceful campaigning and advocacy.
Ravi Nitesh from SSSC said “the vicious cycle of arrest of Irom Sharmila is shameful and undemocratic. Instead of focusing on her demand, her issue, the Government is only responding by arresting her”. He said government must also know that by arresting her, they cannot suppress her thoughts, her ideology.
Kashif Ahmed Faraz from APCR said Irom Sharmila being arrested on the claim of attempting suicide while she has always refuted this claim. He said Sharmila has re-iterated several times that she loved her life and was only demanding rights, equality and justice for everyone. “Why doesn’t the Govt focus on the reason, on her statement?,” asked Faraz.
Devika Mittal, Core member of SSC and research student remarked “It is a shame that this state which claims to talk about women’s rights has such a law that gives shield to rapists.”
S. Raghavan from Lokraj Sangathan said it was unfortunate in a democracy like India that the state always kept such draconian laws like AFSPA, UAPA etc.
Lenin Raghuvanshi from PVCHR (Varanasi) termed it “unfortunate” that even after 15 years, government has done almost nothing.
Social activist Dipak Dholakia said that AFSPA cannot be justified and has no place in a country that claims to be modelled on the ideals of democracy and humanity.
“AFSPA is an inhuman law,” said Dholakia, adding that gross violation of AFSPA has been proved by government’s own commissions, the judiciary and international and national human rights organisations.
Social activist Navaid Hamid (secretary, peoples integration council) expressed his solidarity for Irom Sharmila and called for need to become louder and do so much to raise the voice. Shihad from SIO asserted that AFSPA has violated human rights, saying thousands of fake killings were reported. Many youth activists participated in this hungers strike. SSSC, APCR, LRS and have SIO expressed belief that AFSPA must be repealed as an immediate measure. They reminded that even government’s own committees have recommended the measures to do the same.