14 March, Jantar Mantar, New Delhi
Solidarity Fast in support of Irom Sharmila
A day long fast was organized here in Delhi on the call of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign, Association of Protection of Civil Rights, Lok Raj Sangathan and Students Islamic Organisation of India to support Irom Sharmila and to demand repeal of AFSPA. Many people participated and observed the hunger strike.
It was also informed by supporters in Mumbai, Panipat, Lucknow and even from Korea that on our call, some people observed fast at their workplace and home, to express solidarity with Irom Sharmila.
It was birth date of Irom Sharmila, as she was born on 14th March 1972 and now after 42 years, she inspired so many people across the world through her non violent struggle that she started 15 years ago at the age of 28. She is on hunger strike and her fast has become longest hunger strike. She motivates each one of us through her faith in democracy. We believe that on this day, this is the least that we can do for expressing our solidarity.
Organisers also submitted memorandum to Prime Minister of India stating the demand to repeal AFSPA and immediate release of Irom Sharmila, quashing charges of section 309 from her from cases lodged in Manipur and Delhi. Memorandum also states the BJP state leadership promise of repealing AFSPA that was done 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. We also hope that more and more people will also come in support of the demand and we will raise our demand more strongly and loudly with our peaceful campaigning and advocacy.
Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) provides extraordinary powers to security forces without any accountability. They can shoot to kill on mere suspicion and even no inquiry or prosecution can be done due to impunity granted in the act. Many cases have been reported, but nothing could be done. It is like ‘Emergency’ situation at all time and making this abnormal environment as normal for people living in AFSPA imposed regions, who in turn facing serious problems of human rights violations as well as effect on their psychology and behavior. Under this law, a security personal itself work as judge and executor and replace democratic arrangements of administration.
Ravi Nitesh from Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign told, “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. It is shameful that in these 15 years, the “concerned” Govt. of both state and centre have not made a single attempt to open talks with her.” “The Govt. must also know that by arresting her, they cannot suppress her thoughts, her ideology,”
Kashif Ahmed faraz from Association for Protection of Civil Rights said “She is being arrested on the claim of attempting suicide while she has always refuted this claim. She has re-iterated several times that she loves her life and is only demanding rights, equality and justice for everyone. Why doesn’t the Govt focus on the reason, on her statement?”
Devika Mittal, Core member of Save Sharmila Campaign 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. But this is not just the hypocrisy of the student but also the people. What about India's daughters in North-east and Kashmir?"
S. Raghavan from Lokraj Sangathan told that it is unfortunate in a democracy like India that claims of being biggest democracy, that state always keep such draconian laws like AFSPA, UAPA etc. He said that we have witnessed that state just modify one and apply another and these laws violate the very nature and value of democracy itself.
Lenin Raghuvanshi from PVCHR (Varanasi) told that it is unfortunate to see that how even after 15 years, government has done almost nothing, but we are hopeful in democracy and believe that our struggle will be listened one day.
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. The gross violations 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) was also participated and expressed his solidarity for Irom Sharmila. He told that we need to become louder and need to do as much as we can to raise the voice.
Shihad from SIO told that AFSPA has violated human rights. Thousands of fake killings were reported. But unfortunately, it is more wondering that even rapes were done by security forces in these regions but no criminal inquiry could be set us due to impunity granted to security personals under AFSPA.
Madhvi Bansal who recently graduated from Delhi University and associated with social activities told “It is shameful that that they can only see her as a law offender but not as a victim. It is shameful that in this democracy, the victim is imprisoned instead of the culprit. AFSPA is the culprit and this has been established by Govt-appointed committees, national and international human rights’ organizations and even judiciary. ”
Many youth activists participated in this hungers strike. It was seen that young professionals and students are joining the movements and developing a democratic way of creating a culture that respect human rights. Civil Engineer Arvind Lodi, Architect Madhuri Mittal, Engineering graduate Vikas Suryavanshi , Research scholar Sanjana Arya were few of them who marked their presence. Youth activists Ghazanafar Abbas, Ovais, Deepak Chaudhary, Birju Nayak also participated.
What can be more shameful than the fact that from the start of hunger strike of irom Sharmila in the year 2000 till the year 2011, even the most recognized institution of human rights in India, that is NHRC, did not visit Manipur or Irom Sharmila to know the situation? SSSC received it in a RTI response in the year 2011. Recently in last year, NHRC delegation visited Manipur and also passed instructions to let Sharmila meet with people, But nothing concrete was done on its end. In our view, such agencies of human rights must work actively as pro people- pro democracy.
If we talk about J&K, we see that thousands of persons are disappeared, military density is one of the highest, mass graves are found and even electricity protests were faced bullets. We have seen that in Pathribal case, even after CBI investigation and Supreme Court intervention and instructions for court martial of accused personals, nothing was done. Situation in Manipur and other areas of north east also the same. Courts ordered for compensations to victim families, but could not provide justice yet.
SSSC, APCR, LRS, SIO believes that AFSPA must be repealed as an immediate measure. It should be noted that even government's own committees have recommended the measures to do the same. The continuous violation must need to stop. Also, Government must come forward to express its 'willing' attitude of resolving the problem rather than ignoring the peaceful and non violent struggle of Irom Sharmila. We considers Irom Sharmila as its leader and will always stand for her support for the very cause of truth, justice, humanity and peace. At the same time, we demand with the government to remove the case of 'attempt to suicide' from her and to make her free to communicate with her supporters. Until the demands will be fulfilled, the struggle and demonstrations will continue .
Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign (SSSC)
Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR)
Lok Raj Sangathan
Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO)