‘Humanity In Prison’

Sharmila’s Fast Reaches 15 Years

Pankaj Pathak

[Irom's fast for repealing AFSPA reached in 15th year : Mahatma Gandhi's name is selling but no one is there to save suffocating Gandhian values.]

Several J&K state leaders and National leaders have expressed their stand in the past on the revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from Jammu and Kashmir. Chief Minister Shri Omar Abdullah had expressed his desire in the past to support the withdrawal of AFSPA from J&K. However still nothing came on board or looked liked in terms of efforts in this direction from National Conference leaders; Dr Faruq Abdullah or Shri Omar Abdullah. Similarly in parliamentary election in North East, the BJP manifesto advocated about revocation of AFSPA but it has past 5 months of BJP government in Delhi and again there is nothing heard from either North East state leadership or central leadership of BJP. What is more important now is action in connection with revocation of AFSPA from J&K and North East and not the unending promises and assurances of political class be it ruling or opposition parties across the center or state governments. The saddest part is that not even a single region or areas of these states where peace is prevailing from years have been set free from AFSPA.

This seriously speaks about lack of determination or sensitivity of government and political class ruling the states. The Chhattisgarh government has been trying to contain the naxalite unrest in parts of state through various initiatives and schemes rather than submitting the state for AFSPA for long. This also raises the question that why only J&K and North East are getting a treatment of AFSPA while despite of sustaining unrest for long, Chhattisgarh has not been subjected to AFSPA. It is delighting and welcome that substantial efforts made particularly by state government on their own and from the help of central government in Delhi that raised some ray of hope of reinstating peace and harmony in Chhattisgarh. At a time there was such unrest in Punjab but that has also substantiated over a period of time without AFSPA like demon. These all facts again indicate a serious lack of will and determination of state leadership of J&K and North East and also central leadership of all the concerned political parties.

In view of this background and on the eve of 5th November when iron lady Irom Sharmila started her fast 15 years back for revocation of AFSPA from Manipur, 'SAVE SHARMILA SOLIDARITY CAMPAIGN' (SSSC) is writing letters to each parliamentarian to express his views on this issue and take this issue in winter session of parliament. SSSC is also ensuring to meet or convey their message to chief of state leaders of all the parties contesting polls in J & K. The demand is to include the promise of removal of the AFSPA in time bound manner from J&K in their manifesto in upcoming elections. SSSC is also demanding again from government to respect the sacrifice of Irom for the People of Manipur and other parts of the country where AFSPA is imposed. Peace-loving people need to save Irom as she is the sole torch bearer of peace and sacrifice and is an asset to the country where Mahatma Gandhi is now restricted to pictures and Gandhian values are diminishing fast. Meeting the demands of Irom and setting her free would also be a real tribute and respect to Mahatma Gandhi and his values. The grit and peaceful manner of conduct in the form of fasting for a humanitarian demand and rights for 15 years in itself speak that a new age lady Gandhi is here.

[courtesy :]

Vol. 47, No. 23, Dec 14 - 20, 2014