New Delhi: On 5th November, Irom Sharmila entered her 15th year of hunger-strike against the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act(AFSPA) that has led to gross human rights' violations in North-East and Jammu & Kashmir. To mark the beginning of the 15th year of her struggle for democracy and justice, Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign alongwith other like-minded organisations like Azaadi Bachao Aandolan, B P Mehta foundation and other human rights' groups and individuals observed a one-day solidarity fast at Jantar Mantar.
The solidarity hunger-strike and gathering included students, activists and senior Gandhians belonging from both North-east and other parts of India. During the day-long gathering, students and activists from different organisations shared their views:
Rajesh Mehta, one of the organisers, said “It is shocking that Irom Sharmila has gone unheard in the world’s largest democracy. Her belief and continued struggle shows that she is a true democrat. The Government should talk to her if they believe in the spirit of democracy.”
Hidam Peter, a DU student, said “It is shameful that such a long hunger-strike has been going on in the land of Gandhi. While the state regards Mahatma Gandhi as the father of the nation, no attention has been paid to her true supporter.”
Social Activist, Pawan Kumar Jain said “Irom Sharmila has become the symbol of anti-AFSPA. Her struggle has been recognized internationally but our own Government and some people remain apathetic. Instead of opening talks with her, she has been charged for “committing suicide”. The irony is that she is standing just for the opposite. She is standing for the right to life, the most basic right yet so hard to achieve in the world’s largest democracy.
Devika Mittal, core member of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign, argued that “Irom Sharmila is a prisoner of conscience while the state and everyone who supports AFSPA seems to have lost any conscience. AFSPA is not just a security law. We need to understand the politics behind it. Today, AFSPA has been caught in the blame game and in this, the common people are suffering.”
A memorandum was also submitted to the Prime Minister and the President of India demanding the repeal of AFSPA.