Noted rights activist Irom Sharmila, who has decided to fight Manipur Assembly elections, on Saturday said she has “no specific plans” for the polls and her only strategy would be to “connect the hearts” of people in the state. Sharmila is in Delhi for the first time after breaking her hunger strike. The Manipuri ‘Iron Lady’ said that she will be addressing a group of students at the Jawaharlal Nehru University on Sunday on the AFSPA issue.
“We have been fighting to repeal AFSPA for so long now. Electoral politics is just another democratic tool for change, so I have decided to enter the fray. But, I have no specific plans, and my only strategy is to connect the hearts of people,” she told PTI. The 44-year-old activist, who ended her 16-year-old hunger strike in August, had met Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on September 26 and sought his advice on how to defeat “major political parties” in her home state. She was speaking on the sidelines of a press conference, organised by a group of women rights bodies, which she addressed here this afternoon.
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Co-organiser of the press conference and women rights activist Vani Subramanian said, “We jointly launched a campaign ‘Stand With Irom Sharmila: Repeal AFSPA’ in March and over 1,000 women activists, and professionals from top to grassroots level have endorsed this. We have sent a request to the Rashtrapati Bhawan and we are expecting to meet the President tentatively on October 3 and submit the petition drawn up in the campaign. Since Sharmila is leaving Delhi on October 3, we wanted her to be present with us at the Rashtrapati Bhawan. But, we hope to submit it to him sometime soon anyway.”
Vani said Supreme Court lawyer Vrinda Grover would also be participating in the JNU event to be held at Shipra Hostel. An emotionally overwhelmed Sharmila broke down during the middle of the conference while recalling the Malon firing incident in Manipur in which 10 people were “gunned down” in a small town in Manipur in 2000, which prompted her to begin her fast that moved the entire nation. She on Friday addressed students at the Delhi University and sought the support of the youth to “make a difference”.
“I spoke to students at DU and tomorrow will talk to them at JNU. I and our volunteers are meeting students and activists and seeking their support,” Sharmila said. The activist has already announced that she would soon float a new regional party under the banner of which she will contest the polls.