Irom Sharmila is back at the special ward of JNIMS Hospital in Imphal, not as a prisoner but as a patient this time.
Less than 24 hours after she broke her fast, which she had undertaken 16 years ago against the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA), the 44-year-old seems to have recovered from the shock and disappointment of Tuesday evening when her own people turned her away from the colony where she had planned to stay for a while after getting discharged from the hospital. The locals were upset by her decision to break the fast.
She was then taken to Iskcon temple, which too turned her away.
While the police looked for options where to keep the activist, she was escorted to Imphal City police station.
In the end, she was taken back to the same ward room of JNIMS hospital that has been her home all these years when she refused to eat, demanding repeal of the AFSPA.
“I will go back to my world,” she said, as she returned to the hospital Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Sharmila was surrounded by human rights activists and friends who came to support her and give her company. Though she was still guarded by the police, the restriction on her meeting people was relaxed to an extent. A stream of journalists, both from national and international media, flooded the hospital complex.
“I’m very disappointed,” Sharmila said on “rejection” by her own people.
“At that moment, I felt the best thing for them would have been beating me to death. What is the difference between being beaten to death or dying from fasting. Not much,” she remarked. “They want me to remain a martyr forever. But I can’t always be a martyr.”
The hospital authorities have told her that she can stay there for up to a month, But Sharmila doesn’t want to stay in the hospital any longer. Sharmila said that she will move out either on Thursday or Wednesday evening itself.
The Red Cross in Imphal also offered her shelter Wednesday. “We have our office at Thangal Bazar which can be easily converted to living quarters for Sharmila. She can stay there for however long she wants,” said Dr Y Mohen Singh, secretary, Red Cross-Imphal.
On Wednesday, she had 10 teaspoons of Horlicks in the day. “There is nothing wrong with her stomach — only her esophagus has been non-operational for years. So she slowly needs to break that in,” said Medical Superintendent of JNIMS, Dr L Ranbir Singh. “If there is any problem in her eating, then it will psychological one.”
“With my extraordinary bravery, I will get through this. I’m feeling positive,” she said.
‘Repeal AFSPA’ posters won’t carry her photo Meira Paibis of Manipur, the staunch supporters and patrons of SAKAL — or Sharmila Kanba Lup (Protect Sharmila Organisation) — have decided to move ahead with their struggle against AFSPA without Sharmila. Large posters of “India is slowly killing Sharmila”, which adorn the shack used as Lup’s headquarters are soon to be dismantled.
“We will remove Sharmila’s name from all our posters (from) all our campaigns. She has nothing to do with us any longer. We feel disappointed and let down by her,’’ said 72-year-old L Madhu Laima from Sagolband.
Referring to Sharmila’s announcement in court, Laima said, “Yesterday was the saddest day of my life. She has not been listening to us. She has not been consulting us on any of her decisions…. We were all fighting against AFSPA. The people did not allow her to stay because they must have felt similarly betrayed by her, although I am sad that she was turned away.”