I want to eat, help me, join my struggle: Irom Sharmila’s message on first day out

The crowd, who had only seen Sharmila in photographs printed in newspapers, garlanded her.

Written by Esha Roy | Imphal | Updated: August 22, 2014 5:58 am
She said the decision of the sessions court freeing her from detention was an honour to her struggle. Sharmila said the decision of the session court freeing her from detention was an honour to her struggle.

Freed from detention after 14 years, Irom Sharmila had a message on her first day out. “I want to eat. Help me. Join my struggle. Let us bring a solution to the problem of AFSPA so that we can live together; eat, sleep and drink together. I am not a martyr. I am a common person. I also want to eat,” said 42-year-old activist against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act on Thursday.

A stream of people, civil rights activists and spiritual leaders came to meet Sharmila through the day. When word spread that she will visit the Ima Keithel (the mothers’ market) located at the centre of Imphal city, hundreds of people, primarily women, gathered to greet her.

As Sharmila got out of the car, a crowd of mediapersons and women rushed to meet her. The crowd, who had only seen Sharmila in photographs printed in newspapers, garlanded her. Many women started crying. Young men began taking photographs of Sharmila on their cellphones. She was jostled around the Ima market amid loud slogans of “Sharmila – save her life”. Traffic came to a halt. People peered down from balconies just to catch a glimpse.

Then in 15 minutes it was all over. An exhausted and frail Sharmila, not used to so many people, dehydrated from no medical care, sat down on the steps. The police deployed at the market quickly cleared the crowds and she was whisked away.

Chaungbum Ibetombi, a 55-year-old garment stall owner at the mothers market, run completely by women and touted as the only market of its kind in Asia, said, “I was so emotional when I saw her that I started crying. Now that we have seen her we will join her protest. We are ready to take to the streets if need be.” She said that news spread like wildfire through the market that Sharmila was going to visit them. Women left their stalls unattended just to catch a glimpse of her.

In the quieter confines of the Press Club, Sharmila addressed the local media to send her message to all Manipuris.”It is time to wake up. Join my struggle and get this Act repealed so that the citizens of Manipur can enjoy the right to life,” she said. “I had not expected so many people to come to see me. I am very happy.”

Breaking down once more, an emotional Sharmila said she had faced a lot of criticism over the years. “There are people who have said that my fast is to gain publicity, and not justice. Do they know how much I have struggled. Do they know what it is like to not eat for 14 years. Whenever I felt like having food I would clamp my tongue to the roof of my mouth and swallow my own saliva,” she said.

She said the decision of the sessions court freeing her from detention was an honour to her struggle. “My appeal to Prime Minister Modi is that while he himself never talked of repealing AFSPA, this is the platform used by the BJP here to fight the elections. They had said that if the BJP came to power they would get it repealed. They must honour this commitment,” she said.

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  1. P
    Prof.K.Anban
    Aug 23, 2014 at 4:54 am
    It is high time the genuine demand is fulfilled.
    Reply
  2. G
    Giggin
    Aug 22, 2014 at 1:59 am
    This 3rd cl draconian act called AFSPA should be repealed at the earliest. What have we achieve with such monstrous act in the last 60 odd years? Nothing except discontentment. License to torture and kill shouldnot find a place in modern indian society.
    Reply
  3. K
    kulmohan
    Aug 22, 2014 at 5:56 am
    How many people would welcome army-men with unaccountable powers outside the door steps of their house for decades after decades?
    Reply
  4. K
    kulmohan
    Aug 22, 2014 at 5:55 am
    Would you and your family welcome armymen with unaccountable powers outside the door steps of your house for decades after decades?
    Reply
  5. R
    RajeevS
    Aug 22, 2014 at 5:08 am
    She should be left to die, if she wants. Enough is enough!
    Reply
  6. R
    RajeevS
    Aug 22, 2014 at 6:37 am
    We won't welcome such mentally disturbed drama queens also to our house for "decades after decades". Stop BS arguments, she should be allowed to die, or put into mental asylum for good. This is propaa of leftist media, and we want none of it.
    Reply
  7. மனசாட்சி
    Aug 22, 2014 at 12:19 pm
    By the term 'WE' I believe you included only you & your family members. Also,I would say that your words are the mere reflections of an ignorant Indian who wants to comment on any matter though he isn't aware of the real facts or the pain & the truth behind it. How stupid it is to comment so badly about the poor lady who is fighting for the welfare of the people who are affected by that barbarian act.Before posting I would suggest you to read the cause & the history which makes this poor woman to fight and to make her life as a never-ending battle.
    Reply
  8. R
    Ravindra Mann
    Aug 22, 2014 at 6:41 am
    Draconian for some.. useful for many...and miniscule level of misuse..it gets disproportionate publicity.....
    Reply
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