9 October 2011
Srinagar: Intesnsifying its movement against Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) which is implemented in Kashmir and North East, the ‘Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign’ group will take out a public caravan from Srinagar to Imphal. This campaign is a joint initiative of various social organisations and movements who are extending their support to Irom Sharmila for the demand of repealing AFSPA.
The ‘Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign’ organized a press meet at Islamic Relief & Research Trust (IRRT), Kashmir. Faisal Khan, a renowned activist of National Alliance for People’s Movement (NAPM) and key organizer of the campaign informed mediapersons that the caravan is being organize to spread awareness about Irom Sharmila and to generate public support for her. Sharmila is observing fast for last 10 years demanding repeal of AFSPA from Manipur.
Mr. Khan said that the main objective of the campaign is to make public opinion to repeal AFSPA and for this various activities such as pamphlet distribution, public meetings, press meet, nukkar natak etc, will be conducted throughout the route. “We will focus on states where people don’t know about AFSPA and its consequences. We believe that AFSPA is a draconian law and there is no place of such laws in democracy. We will tell the people about AFSPA, its problems and necessity to repeal it from J&K and NE states. We feel that public opinion in non victim states (where AFSPA is not imposed) to repeal AFSPA is very much required to save democracy and justice,” Khan said.
He informed that the caravan will cover 10 states and around 4500 Kms. It will move from Srinagar to Imphal via Jammu, Ludhiana, Karnal, Panipat, New Delhi, Aligarh, Kanpur, Lucknow, Varanasi, Patna, Ranchi, Kolkata and Guwahati. The journey will start on 16th October and will reach Imphal on 27th October. Megsasey awardee Dr. Sandeep Pandey and renowned activist Medha Patkar will flag off the journey.
Ravi Nitesh from Mission Bhartiyam and another member of Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign told that the campaign has already launched nationwide protest. This is first time in history when any such campaign that is focused to repeal AFSPA has been launched in 21 states of India. Irom Sharmila, who is on hunger strike since the year 2000 has been ignored by government. Civil society has also not done much for the cause. AFSPA is imposed in J&K and NE states and many thousands people have been killed, tortured, lost in these states. Irom Sharmila is demanding to repeal AFSPA and she has become a symbol of peace and a strong voice against AFSPA. Hence, we all have to extend our support for her fight. J&K is affected with AFSPA on one side and NE states on another. Hence, the journey will start from Srinagar.
Dr. Muzaffar Bhat of J&K RTI Movement said that his organization also supports the Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign. “We believe that it is our responsibility to extend our support towards the cause. We are victims of AFSPA and we are raising our voice since last many years,” he said.
Adv. Abdur Rashid Hanjura, founder of IRRT and Shahnawaz Mir from Centre for Social Justice, J&K welcomed the move and supported the campaign.
Tanveer Hussain Khan from ANHAD, Kashmir said that we all are dedicated towards the cause. We all extend our support towards this campaign as the campaign is raising the basic issue of AFSPA which is important not only for J&K and NE states (victim states) but for other states too, as it will address the problems of democratic values.
The campaign is said to have already received support of more than 50 organizations including National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM), Asha Parivar, Khudai Khidmatgar, Mission Bhartiyam, Sadbhav mission, ANHAD, J&K RTI Movement, INSAF, PEACE, Centre for Social justice (J&K), Yuva Koshish, SAMAR, Le Mashale, Society for Youth Development, Asian Centre for Social Studies, Just Peace Foundation, We The Common People (WTCP), Student Islamic Organization (SIO), Mahila Chetna Kendra, Jagriti Mahila Samiti, Inqualab Zindabad, Society for Youth Development, Save Democracy Repeal AFSPA, Rights Initiative, Islamic Releif & Research Trust (Kashmir) and many others.