RANCHI: A team of 21 National Alliance for People’s Movement (NAPM) activists who started their journey from Srinagar to garner support for Manipur-based humanist Irom Sharmila on October 16 reached Ranchi on Monday.
The 21-member team led by Faisal Khan of NAPM is visiting 10 north and northeastern Indian states to make common people aware of the fallouts of the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) clamped in Manipur and Jammu & Kashmir.
Backed by over two-dozen social groups active in different parts of the country, the team in its effort to create public awareness wants to pressure the government for initiating talks with Sharmila without any delay. “She has been fasting for more than a decade now and has turned fragile weighing only 35 kg and any further delay will only hasten her death,” said Khan, insisting democratic means of protest should never be neglected.
The Save Sharmila Solidarity campaign intends to cover 4,500 km travelling across 10 states and reach Imphal with a pan-India delegation. Having received a warm welcome in Patna, the team was also received warmly in Ranchi by socio-political activists and humanists. Here they sat on a daylong dharna at the main road and informed people about the plight of people in Manipur and Jammu & Kashmir because of the high-handedness of security forces in the garb of the AFSPA. “We are not demanding that the government should repeal the act immediately but when social audit is recommended for programmes like the MGNREGA, the government should at least review an act that affects the life of every citizen,” Khan argued.
Social activist Dayamani Barla, who joined the team in Ranchi as state convener, said, “The first programme to garner public support for Sharmila was organized in Ranchi on October 2 by conducting a signature campaign. We realized that there was little knowledge and great inquisitiveness among youths to know about her,” she said.
While over 2,000 people signed in support of Sharmila and wanted the government to engage her in talks, many people simply spoke to the organizers to know about Sharmila and the reason for which she is on fast for more than a decade now.
The solidarity campaign has decided to hold fast at Rajghat in New Delhi on December 10, when signatures collected from different parts of the country would be put on display and a delegation will meet the President to seek her intervention.
Satya Prakash Bharat, another activist from Delhi, said this time they are expecting a political team to visit Imphal or at least take up the matter with the government sternly. “We are happy that people from Jammu & Kashmir have also joined hands to request the government for reviewing AFSPA in democratic manner,” he said.
Ghulam Mohammad of Khudai-Khidmatgar, Kashmir-based NGO, said they joined the team in Srinagar. “We want to support Sharmila and seek a review of the act that has been repeatedly misused.”