Srinagar, Oct 7
A countrywide journey by the civil society activists as part of the ‘Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign” for mobilizing public opinion on revoking the Armed Forces Special Powers Act from Jammu and Kashmir and North-eastern states will commence from Srinagar next week.
Top civil society activists Medha Patekar and Magsaysay award winner Dr Sandeep Pandey will kick off the journey on October 16 here.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, Ravi Nitesh, core committee member of the campaign said that the journey will commence from JK, “as it is also under the purview of AFSPA”.
“Only way to save Irom Sharmila, who is on fast to unto death since 2000, demanding repealing of APSPA, is to revoke the draconian law from all parts of the Country including JK,” Nitesh said.
Irom Sharmila Chanu also known as the “Iron Lady of Manipur” is a civil and political activist and poet from Manipur. Since November 2, 2000, she has been on hunger strike to demand repeal of AFSPA, which she blames for violence in Manipur and other northeast areas.
Nitesh said that Kashmiris have also suffered immensely due to applicability of the law as “there is no accountability for forces here like other Northeastern states.”
“Before culminating our journey at Imphal, we will tell people in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh , Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, how the law is undemocratic, unjustified and how it is grossly misused. We feel only way to revoke AFSPA is to mobilize opinion against it,” he said.
About the campaign, he said more than 50 organizations are supporting them and “they are also reaching out to people through different media including streetplays and distribution of pamphlets”.
Faisal Khan of National Alliance for Peoples Movement said, civil society of India is not indifferent towards the pain and sufferings of Kashmiris.
“Our heart also bleeds for Kashmiris and we will also highlight their sufferings through this campaign,” he said.
Pertinently, AFSPA is in vogue in eight states including Jammu and Kashmir. In Northeast, AFSPA has to be reviewed after every six months in light of the Supreme Court direction in Naga Peoples Movement case, but the directive is not applicable to JK.