Manipur’s ‘Iron lady’ Irom Chanu Sharmila has appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to help her break the 14-year-old hunger strike by repealing the ‘draconian’ Armed Forces Special Powers Act.
“I now count the days of my freedom with the repeal of the AFSPA, 1958 with your efforts in Parliament. So, do be the omnipotent leader who eventually breaks my fast of 14 years by repealing the Act,” Sharmila appealed in a letter to Modi.
“Holding such licence to kill under the AFSPA, 1958, the Government of India has been committing thousands of killings and enforced disappearance of innocent people over the last few decades,” she regretted.
The civil rights activist wondered why Parliament should treat the Northeast differently from the rest of the country by declaring the region as a disturbed area and “allowing the armed forces, even to the rank of a havildar, the power to kill with impunity, torture and rape anyone on mere suspicion of being an insurgent in their eyes”.
She pointed out that “such mindset” had only been helpful in begetting more and more insurgent parties in the long run. “Please, do provide us with the basic right of being a human so that we can live with self-respect and dignity,” Sharmila urged the prime minister while describing herself as a young woman demanding for right to life under the constitution.
She also drew PM’s attention to the fact that the status of a disturbed area had affected tourism industry in the region. On a hunger strike for the last 14 years demanding revocation of the AFSPA, Sharmila has been under arrest in Imphal for attempting to commit suicide. Having refused to take food and water all these years, she is forcibly nose-fed at a special ward of the Jawaharlal Nehru hospital in Imphal.