The Prime Minister
The Government of India
3rd December 2012
Subject: Attention towards the 12 year struggle of Irom Sharmila
This is to draw your kind attention towards the important yet neglected issue of Irom Sharmila.
Irom Sharmila, the Manipuri poet-activist who has been on a hunger-strike against the arbitrary military law of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Manipur, has been pleading for 12 years.
For 12 years, she has been waiting eagerly.
For 12 years, she has been confined to a hospital room in the JN Hospital, Manipur.
For 12 years, she is arrested every year under the charge of “committing suicide”. But in these 12 years, not a single delegation has been sent to talk to her. Why?
Her demand is not baseless. The bare act says that under AFSPA, any commissioned officer, warrant office, non-commissioned officer of equivalent rank in the army may fire upon or use force, even to the causing of death, against any “suspect”. This has led to extra-judicial killings, torture and rape. The act also does not allow for the persecution of the army men found guilty. Why?
Also even though, the law does allow killing or torture, it does not allow for rape. So why are rapes being meted out to the “suspects”?
The case of Manorama Devi is one of the most famous rape cases wherein the accused were also found guilty, yet nothing had happened. Why?
The Jeevan Reddy committee appointed by the government had confirmed these. It has also laid down several options, one of which did ask for a repeal. However, the Government has not acted upon any of the options. Why?
Her way of protest is not “undemocratic”.
For 12 years, she has been peacefully protesting. She has been protesting all alone. Her struggle of 12 years shows her relentless faith in the democratic institutions. She is hopeful that someday the government will listen to her.
She is a true democrat yet her democratic way of protest is being ignored in the “World’s largest democracy”. Why?
Sir, when the government can talk to terrorists and naxals, why can’t the government talk to her who has adopted a peaceful and democratic way?
When the government can talk to someone who had fasted for 11 days then why can’t the same government talk to a woman who has been on a hunger-strike for 12 years?
Irom Sharmila was not a social activist. She was not even a direct victim of the law. Yet, she is on a hunger-strike for 12 years. And she is not alone. People of this country are sympathetic towards her.
We are a part of the Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign, a nation-wide protest against the neglect and suppression of Irom Sharmila.
For over a year, the campaign has been organizing public demonstrations, awareness programmes in colleges, signature campaigns in about 20 states and nation-wide rallies to spread the word about her and her struggle. From all these, we have gathered that people are sympathetic towards her. We have also met the chairman of NHRC and he had also admitted that AFSPA is a problem.
We request you to open talks with her.
We request you to send an all-party delegation to meet her.
We request you to send a team of doctors to inquire into her health.
We also request you to direct the NHRC to investigate the matters of human rights violation.
We urge you to take immediate action for truth, peace and justice.
Image Courtesy: [The Viewspaper]
Disclaimer: The above article is the personal opinion of the author and not of the publication.