Irom Chanu Sharmila – The Iron Lady Of Manipur: 13 Years On, Her Activism Continues To Be A Legend
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A tube is attached to her nose, from where a calculated dose of food is inserted into her stomach forcefully, in order to keep her breathing and her vital organs alive. Despite her frail structure, which has developed from this condition,
Her picturesque state Manipur, with most friendly people and rain forests rich in timber and herbs, could have been a picture of peace if not for the simmering conflict between
The incident that made Irom Chanu Sharmila both a legend and a victim of the government’s conspiracies occurred just before the new millennium completed a year. On November 2, 2000, armed forces killed 10 innocent civilians who were waiting for a bus in Malon, a town close to the capital city of
Sharmila, also known as Mengoubi (a fair girl), was onto her regular fasting routine when the news trickled in. She used to go on a day-long fast every Thursday. But that Thursday was going to be historical. Protesting the killings, she continued her fast into the next day, the day after and many days following November 2. Her vital signs deteriorated and the news that she was fasting to force the government to revoke
Sensing trouble with the growing support to Irom Sharmila, the government charged her with ‘attempted suicide’ and ensured her days were split between hospital and legal institutions. But what had to happen transpired like droplets of water trickling into a solid rock. With her silence, resilience and consistent efforts, the frail woman had made a dent, and a solid one at that. This poetess with shy eyes and silken skin had turned into a
And when she completed 500 weeks of
AFSPA, the legal provision that has turned Armed forces (read
The act was modified a bit in 1958 and amended in 1972, in order to accommodate six sections that accord absolute power to the army, in areas of
Having seen the bloodshed and the temporariness of life, Sharmila decided somebody had to take the lead. And she did. Much to the relief of the people of Manipur, the news travelled far and wide, and national and international organisations began to meet up with her. Her story has become a glowing reference to peaceful activism, globally. Awards soon followed – both from within the country and outside India. There is even a play written on her life that continues to touch the audience throughout the country.
It is a noteworthy fact that Manipur shares its border with
Maybe, just maybe, it’s in the DNA of the people in this region. They are not the ones to accept a raw deal, be it from the government or the armed forces.