This solitary hunger striker is about to cross 15 years without food!
“Iron Lady of Manipur” – Irom Sharmila (born 14 March 1972) is a civil rights activist, political activist, and poet from the Indian state of Manipur. On 2 November 2000, she began a hunger strike which is still ongoing.
On 2 November 2000, in Malom, a town in the Imphal Valley of Manipur, ten civilians were shot and killed while waiting at a bus stop. The incident, known as the “Malom Massacre”, was allegedly committed by the Assam Rifles, one of the Indian Paramilitary forces operating in the state.The victims included Leisangbam Ibetombi, a 62-year old woman, and 18-year old Sinam Chandramani, a 1988 National Bravery Award winner.
Sharmila, who was 28 at the time, began to fast in protest of the killing, taking neither food nor water. As her brother Irom Singhajit Singh recalled, “It was a Thursday. Sharmila used to fast on Thursdays since she was a child. That day she was fasting too. She has just continued with her fast.”
She has not met her mother since the start of the fast as seeing her mother’s anguish may break her resolve. She said “The day AFSPA is repealed I will eat rice from my mother’s hand.
The Manipur High Court has ordered Rs. 5 lakh compensation for each of the families of 10 people killed by the Assam Rifles in November 2000, in what was later alleged to be a fake encounter. But for the families of those who were killed 14 years ago, compensation is just the first step towards justice.
Three days after she began her strike, she was arrested by the police and charged with an “attempt to commit suicide”, which was unlawful under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) at that time, and was later transferred to judicial custody. However, Amnesty International and the World Medical Association both dispute that a hunger strike is equivalent to suicide as hunger strikers “generally hope and intend to survive”. Her health deteriorated rapidly, and nasogastric intubation was forced on her in order to keep her alive while under arrest.
And her hunger strike continues still…
The following documentary by IBN talks about her life and the politics around her.
The sad thing it is 15 years now. Will the Indian government answer her? This is the land of Mahatma Gandhi who remarkably contributed towards the Indian Freedom via non-violence! Will the government consider her request? What is their answer to her?
You can buy her book Fragrance of Peace here at Amazon