Irom Sharmila to break 16-year fast. Twitter reactions

DailyBiteJul 26, 2016 | 15:52

Irom Sharmila to break 16-year fast. Twitter reactions

Irom Sharmila Chanu reacts during an interview in New Delhi. Photo: Reuters

The "Iron Lady" of Manipur, Irom Chanu Sharmila, iconic activist and on a self-styled fast for the greater part of last two decades, will finally end the 16-year-long gastromic austerity in protest against the brutalities perpetrated by armed forces in the Northeastern state.

Sharmila, instead, has decided to participate in parliamnetary democracy and contest elections from her home state.

Rejoice, since she has also expressed an intention to marry!

As per a newschannel, te 44-year-old told a district court, where she needs to register attendance every two weeks, in Manipur on July 25 that she is looking forward to ending her legendary fast on August 9 this year.

Interestingly, Sharmila will not be joining any political party at present, and will be contesting as an independent.

Manipur's most famous activist has been the subject of innumerable oped pieces and interviews, with her unique and pacifist protest against alleged army atrocities. Though force-fed through a nasal tube for 14 years and restrained to a room at a government-run hospital, Sharmila's non-violent protest has been a strong and stark contrast against the forcible takedowns and encounters practised by both the police as well as extremists in Mnaipur.

Till 2014, the force-feeding was in lieu of the State saying that Sharmila was suidical (a criminal charge until last year when attempt to suicide was decriminalised) which was overruled by the court.

Interestingly, Sharmila was approached by Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha polls under their hat. But the activist had politely declined the offer, unlike the tribal activist Soni Sori, who had fought on an AAP ticket.

With media speculation rife about the method and tactic that Sharmila would now adopt to carry on her struggle and resistance agaisnt the draconian AFSPA, or Armed Forces Special Powers Act of Manipur and Assam 1958, all eyes are now on the activist's new stint as a politician in the violence-ridden state.

In taking to politics, she resembles the path chosen by another legendary resistance leader - Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma.

However, there is little sign that the AFSPA would be withdrawn, even partially, from the states currently reeling under it, including the highly volatile Jammu and Kashmir, which has seen a major spike in violence since the encounter killing of Hizbul militant Burhan Wani.

Though J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti has urged the Centre to consider phased withdrawal of the AFSPA on an experimental basis, it is unlikely that her plea would be heard any time soon.In this context, Irom Sharmila's decision and future moves will be watched with keen interest across global media.

The face of people's struggle against the AFSPA as well as the soft yet stern protest that Sharmila had waged will nevertheless remain stuff that history is made of.

But a new chapter has surely begun, not only in Irom Chanu Sharmila's life but also the political climate of India's troubled and but neglected Northeast.

"Iron Lady" Irom Sharmila ended the world's longest hunger strike.


Last updated: July 26, 2016 | 15:56
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