The Bounden Duty….!!

More than hundred TV channels, an unprecedented age of media.Yet both Indian citizens and the Indian State were oblivious to herIrom Sharmila Chanu.. yes, that’s her name. Don’t know how many of us actually know about this name or even if we know this name then how many of us actually know to what it relates to?.. I saw a couple of documentaries showcasing the struggle and the story of Irom Sharmila but I felt something extraordinary strong about it. And the question in front of me was that just 2 documentaries are enough to showcase the sacrifice this lady is doing for over 11 years now. The documentaries were aired on television around the time the whole country was busy following Anna Hazare and his movement against corruption in the month of August, 2011, and as expected I did not hear a word about it from anyone’s mouth in my proximity. I promised myself to do my bit for this cause, though I took my time to research more and come out with the facts to support my decision of supporting this cause.

Though some people I know may not approve of my decision of removing AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act.) from Manipur, the cause Miss Irom Sharmila is fighting for over 11 years now, but still I think I am sure of why I’m writing this.


I know you would want a story to get you glued to it else it might not interest you at all. So, here I am presenting you a short story to get you up and close with Irom Sharmila.

Irom Sharmila born on March 4, 1972 in Manipur was an ordinary girl until one day she shredded the decision of living an ordinary life. She was a fair complexioned girl with jet black curly hair and that peaceful smile on her face.

Like any other girl she too had dreams of getting married and living a peaceful life with family and friends. Very similar to what all of us aspire to live.
Well living a peaceful life is pretty much a reality for us living here in metropolitan cities but could be a distant reality for a person living in a region where the AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act.) is in place.Under this Act, all security forces are given unrestricted and unaccounted power to carry out their operations, once an area is declared disturbed. Even a non-commissioned officer is granted the right to shoot to kill based on mere suspicion that it is necessary to do so in order to “maintain the public order”. In short it is one of those draconian laws which are being used by Armed Forces, sometimes to harass people of the region in the name of curbing extremism. I fully respect the Armed Forces of our nation but at the same time it is quite familiar with all of us that how laws like AFSPA are used by some evil sections of the forces.

For young Irom Sharmila, things came to a head on November 2, 2000. A day earlier, an insurgent group had bombed an Assam Rifles column. The enraged battalion retaliated by gunning down 10 young innocent boys standing on a bus stop. The very next day the brutal pictures of the dead bodies were published including the picture of a 62 year old woman and 18-year old Sinam Chandramani, a 1988 National Child Bravery Award winner who were amongst the killed. Extraordinarily stirred by the event, 28 years old Sharmila began her fast on November 4, 2000.

Since then she is fasting for the removal of AFSPA from the state of Manipur. For first six years she was put under arrest by the state authorities,isolated in a single room in JN Hospital in Imphal. Each time she was released she took out the tube out of her nose, the tube that was tied to her by state authorities to forcefully feed her. For more than a decade she had not eaten anything solid. On November 4, 2000, Sharmila had sought her mother Irom Shakhi’s blessings, You will win your goal,” Shakhi said. Sharmila resides within the walking distance of her mother but had not met her since then. When Shakhi was asked about this she said ” I’m weak hearted and will not be able to see Sharmila in this condition.” There were tears of motherly affection in her eyes. ” If this Act could just be removed even for five days, I would feed her rice water spoon by spoon. After that, even if she dies, we will be content, for my Sharmila will have fulfilled her wish.” Shakhi (Sharmila’s mother) added.In 2004, while Sharmila was already fasting against the brutal AFSPA, the Assam Rifles arrested Thangjam Manorama Devi, a 32-year-old woman, allegedly a member of the banned People’s Liberation Army. Her body was found dumped in Imphal a day later, marked with terrible signs of torture and rape. Manipur came to a spontaneous boil. 15 days later in an extra ordinary attempt surpassing the limits of human expression 30 ladies protested nude in front of  Assam Rifles headquarters at Kangla Fort with the banners saying “Indian Army, rape us too”, they screamed. The State responded by jailing all of them for three months.

The struggle of Sharmila and lakhs of citizens of India is still going on. The feeling of not free and liberated in their own country surrounds them. For more than 11 years now Irom Sharmila had not eaten anything or even not drunk a single drop of water. She had stopped brushing her teeth and wipes them daily with dry cotton and her lips with dry spirit so she would not sully her fast. Her body is getting wasted inside. Even her menstrual cycle had stopped. Yet she is resolute and she wants her voice to be heard in the most peaceful and reasonable way.

Here, I’m not presenting this story to gather any sympathies for her but the only thing I want is a pause, a pause from our very own self interests. There are some stories that are untold and unseen which need our pause and attention if not our help. The story of Irom Sharmila is the story of extra ordinary resolute, extra ordinary will power of an extra ordinary woman who is fighting for her and her society’s human rights. The rights which they are eligible for, like all other citizens of our country.

P.S. All the facts and pictures in this post are collected from various reliable sources.

7 comments

  1. Ahhhhh ….thanks Rahul for highlightin d story of this brave lady Irom Sharmila… whose struggle was never noticed due to lack of publicity as in case of Anna. I have witnessed n experienced dis disturbance bw the armed forces n d local associations like ULFA in North east, so can imagine wat dese ppl r goin thru n wat Irom Sharmila is strugglin for!! Thank u 🙂

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  2. Your post reminded me of the Phil Collins' song, “Oh think twice..its just another day for you and me in paradise”..we are so egoistic and naive that we dont even stop and think about others..nice post..following you now

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  3. I read about this lady long time back & ur story bring back those memories. She is fighting for the right cause and even the armed forces are not wrong. If u will check the situation in Kashmir you will hear a lot more stories of such brutality. This is disheartining and people like her become victims of such situations. Thanx so much 4 bringing this up.

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  4. I have read and heard about her. Actually, nobody is supporting her cause as they won't get any benefit. In India, people are attached to thing which have an element of limelight. No celebrity, no political party will come to her rescue or her cause…

    I wish she gets what she is fighting for…

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  5. I'm surprised and I'm touched with your effort!
    A lover boy could be so serious… excuse me if I miss to put correctly how it feels!
    I know this thing you have written…was also aware of the happenings….yet what a brave effort you have made writing this post and yet ones again winning my heart! You have definitively put so much of homework which shows in the details of the post and…..umm….I'm just so touched! 🙂

    Between I have lived darn 8 years in Assam…I know & understand as well the critical scenario of the situation and especially this case and many cases such as the one you have mentioned.

    B.R.A.V.O.
    ~ Keep the Spark ALive…mere sher 🙂

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  6. Various reliable sources you say. First she does not remove her feeding tube at every opportunity. The tube is in two parts one down the oesophagus remains in place. The second part is detachable she removes it to stop it flapping about. Recent sources have claimed that she removed the feeding tube because she wanted to see the CM, the chief medical officer at JNIMS claimed she removed it due to mood swings, a third claim attributed to a doctor of JNIMS is that it is removed because it is painful. These are all part of the false claims that her health has deteriorated sometimes with the prognosis of imminent death. There are various reasons offered for these misinformations. Do more research by all means but there are no reliable sources merely virals quoted so often people assume they must be true. There is much more to the naked lady protest. You will note that in response the CM denotified disturbed area status from Imphal (65%) of the population of Manipur granting absolute power to the family who runs the franchise on the Imphal Police commandoes. Like any government job in Manipur you pay massive bribes to sign up to the force. You don't mention that all her prize money in excess of 6 million rupees was diverted by the Just Peace Foundation for the use of trustees rather than the worthy causes in manipur that she had wanted. She is selfless those around her self-seeking including but not limited to her brother. R K Anand who is supposedly a women's rights and human rights lawyer and was made managing trustee of Just Peace sometimes described in various reliable sources as her foundation? was elected this past election to join the Ibobi Singh regime, there was only one party campaigning for the status quo the SPF, that is the one her so called supporters campaigned for attacking all the opposition parties for politicizing Sharmila's satyagraha. You can find all this information and more but you have to be more thorough. Check out the facts and see which is more likely. One medical question you could check out. What would be the grounds for the wasting away of her body, ceasing of menstrual cycle, brittle bones and auto-immune system failure all stated by what you term reliable sources. There is no medical reason ever given. Sometimes the same doctors also add that she is the best fed Indian Citizen in the State. There is now one campaign I support, go check who I am, I am the man she has chosen to speak for her now, but like you say who listens to what she wants. The campaign is to ask her to stand for election to the Lok Sabha 2014. Even if Manipuris are treacherous they need at least to be offered the option of voting for change, voting for someone who isn't a self-seeking shameless Neta. And India is a democracy. Indians don't have to fight and die to establish voting rights. They just have to grow up and take responsibility for their own lives rather than blame the British the Mayangs or Global warming. You can write to her at Irom Sharmila Chanu, Security Ward, Jawaharlal Nehru I M S, Porompat, Imphal East, Manipur 795001 India. My name is Desmond Coutinho deziecoutinho@yahoo.co.uk I reply when not on retreat.

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