Posts Tagged ‘Fast’

Where is Manipur in India?

Eeerr.. North..

Ok. Which are the seven sister states of India?

Eh, I guess Assam, Manipur.. Well, don’t remember them all.

Have you heard of Irom Sharmila?

Aaah, naah.. Who’s she, oops or is it he?!

Fine, leave it. Heard of Anna Hazare?

Oh, obviously. He fasted for 3 long days for India, how would I not know him?

Wow, kudos. Arey, I guess you even participated in that candle light march for him, right?

That’s thrilling! Thrilling se yaad aaya, Japan was hit hard yaar..

Oh yeah. You know man, more than 15000 people died. And the nuclear blast at Fukushima, people had to face the fear of contamination of even food and drinks.

Hmm, all these are the in things, adds a touch of glamour if you even talk about them. But ever thought about the contamination of the mindsets of the people?

“Ever heard of a lady who is on fast
for a cause since last ten years?”

Do you know, that cause is to fight against the armed forces, the section of the society that we consider the most revered? It’s about a draconian act where any damn person is brutally tortured, murdered or raped, without any particular reason. It’s about Irom Sharmila, a hero in true sense. Let’s recognize her before it’s too late. I know, this is neither glamorous nor the talked about issue, but it’s the voice of our conscience. She is posing a question that lays unanswered. We have to revert.


Manipur is one of the Indian states, of the ‘seven sisters’ province of Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland. These are among the most neglected and underdeveloped parts of India. Manipur is 22% behind the national average for infrastructural development, and the entire north-eastern region is 30% behind the rest of India. Also, its main languages, which belong to the Tibeto-Chinese family, were not recognized as Indian languages until the recent Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution.
Manipur was granted autonomy when the British left in 1947, but was merged with India two years later in a treaty that many of its 2.3 million-strong population believe was forced upon their king. This led to freedom movements, further leading to the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1980 – the Indian Government’s attempt to regain control.

The biggest irony of this act that was established to control the situation is that the North-East was the most peaceful area until it came within the purview of this act.


“Nothing is impossible or unreachable

In that place where truth is lucid and pure

No excuse exists for untruth

Human wrongs are punished

Not excused or ignored”

– Irom Sharmila Chanu
Irom Sharmila Chanu – a poet, a writer and an activist, was born in the state of Manipur on March 14, 1972. She is the best example of a living Gandhian, who staunchly follows a hunger strike that she resolved to on November 4, 2000. She is fighting against the Government of India to repeal the act known as AFSPA, Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, from the state of Manipur and other areas of the North-East.

• Sharmila has not taken a single morsel of food or a single drop of water since ten long years.
• To make sure that even a drop of water does not break her oath, she uses dry cotton to clean her teeth and dry spirit for her lips.

• Her body has wasted inside and her menstrual cycles have stopped.

• Sharmila has vowed not to meet or even see her mother until her wish is fulfilled.

• She has given up footwear.

• She has decided to leave her hair unoiled and uncombed until the act is repealed.


Place: Malom Village, near Imphal.

It was a dark, cold evening. The shiver and the darkness was also seen in people’s minds and hearts. Some called out for a separate state, others for autonomy while some extreme groups demanded nothing but complete independence. There was tremendous outrage and one of the insurgent groups gave a form to this rage. They attacked the paramilitary base that night, adding fuel to the armed forces’ fire.

The dark, cold evening moved on to be a numbed and cold-blooded morning. As a routine, ten people, common people, like you and me, were waiting at the Malom bus stop. The Assam Rifles of the paramilitaries pulled up and opened fire. The ten lay there, becoming the victims of an offense they had not committed, or probably didn’t even know about. No evidence, no time to think, no opportunity to react. It was a bloodthirsty revenge for the previous night’s attack.
This was not new for the region where such encounters, murders and rapes was a regular affair. The people lived constantly under the shadow of the gun. The killings would have remained just another photographs in the next day’s local newspaper, if Irom Sharmila had not decided to protest. The happening triggered her conscience and she was unnerved. She ate a meal that her mother had prepared, took her blessings and has not eaten ever since.

The turmoil was named the ‘Malom Massacre’, hardly known and rarely told!


On the third day of Sharmila’s fast, she was jailed by the police and charged with an “attempt to commit suicide.” However, such a charge allows detention in jail for just 364 days. As a result, she has never been brought to trial and is annually released and rearrested. Also, with her determination of not to take food or water, she is force-fed through a plastic tube. The tube was inserted into her nose and a liquid nutrient was inserted into her body. She has been surviving on this liquid diet and in solitary confinement as a high security prisoner for the last ten years.

• Sharmila is not even permitted to exercise or walk outside in the daylight, a right routinely granted to those convicted of the most serious crimes.

• To meet her, one needs the permission of the Chief Minister and four other senior administrative, police and jail officials of the state.
In times when violence is on the rise and we are increasingly progressing in a more aggressive world, the silent, peaceful protest of Sharmila is something that has not caught the eyes, hearts and minds of the people. For all her valiant struggle, the sad truth is that it has not really moved the Indian Government or the security forces to change their stand on the repeal of the AFSPA. The situation is still the same, but you can add a ray of hope. Spread the awareness, support Sharmila in her cause. Let us shed away the indifference.

The struggle of Sharmila does not just defend the human rights in Manipur, but it is reshaping the very foundations of democracy in India.

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