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Sharmila’s 10 yrs against AFSPA
Correspondent/ IANS Imphal, Nov 2:
Published on 2 Nov. 2010 11:44 PM IST
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The Assam Rifles action by unleashing a reign of terror by gunning down 10 civilians in what later came to be known as the ‘Malom Massacre’ near Tulihar Airport, Imphal prompted Irom Sharmila had to go on indefinite fast till the Armed Forces Special Power Act 1958 is remove completed 10-years Tuesday.
Sharmila, who earned the sobriquet ‘Iron Lady of Manipur’, launched an indefinite hunger strike Nov 2, 2000 after she witnessed at a bus stop near her home in Malom, a village on the outskirts of capital Imphal.
To mark the day, many civil organisations working for the cause of human rights organised various functions and protest showing solidarity to the demand of Sharmila whose struggle has been recognized by the world by conferring international and national level awards instituted by the human rights protection organisations.
Three days into the hunger strike, police arrested her on charges of attempted suicide, sent her to a prison hospital and put her on nasal drip. She is now lodged at an isolated cabin at the Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital here.
At 38, she looks frail and emaciated, but the resolve in her eyes and intent to continue with her campaign has become even stronger.
“Given her steely resolve, Sharmila decided to continue with her fast-unto-death mission until and unless the draconian legislation (AFSPA) was repealed by the government and she made her intentions pretty clear as she completed 10 years of hunger strike,” Babloo Loitongbam, executive director of Human Rights Alert, a frontline rights group in Manipur, told IANS.
Several rights groups Tuesday held sit-in demonstrations in Imphal to express their solidarity with Sharmila.
“She is Manipur’s crusader for peace and rights violations by security forces,” said Anita Devi, a women rights activist.
Two years ago, a court set her free March 7, but she was arrested the very next day after she sat on a hunger strike outside a club in her hometown and sent back to jail once again. This has been the saga of her resolve - year after year the court sets her free and Sharmila once again resumes her campaign.
Local rights leaders also described the Act as ‘draconian’ and want it to be repealed.
“The AFSPA was enacted by parliament with a view to quell the Naga insurgency in 1958. But after that there were so many insurgencies in the northeast and despite the Act in force in all the insurgency-hit states, militancy is still thriving. In other words, the AFSPA had miserably failed,” Babloo Loitongbam said.
Artistes of various art forms of the state as well as from outside also staged a one-day fast today to show solidarity to the struggle of Sharmila.
Showing solidarity to her cause, we are observing this fasting today in support of Sharmila’s struggle for repeal of the draconian law, Armed Forces Special Power Act 1958, president of the organising body, Thangmeiband Art and Culture Organisation and noted Manipuri Film maker Aribam Shyam said.
The Sharmila Kanba Lup, a women body to support Sharmila’s struggle also staged a fasting near the JNIMS campus today. They are also planning to march a mass rally on November 5, convener, Janaki informed.

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