NEW DELHI, October 3, 2011
Supporting the cause of the Manipuri civil rights activist, who has been on fast for the past 11 years demanding the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, several organisations came together here on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanthi to launch a nation-wide “Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign.”
The campaign began at Jantar Mantar with several people coming out in support of the cause. “It is the first time in 11 years that people from all over the country, including non-Manipuri organisations, have come together to support Irom Sharmila,” said Faisal Khan from the National Alliance of People’s Movements.
The campaign will culminate on the International Human Rights Day on December 10. “That day, leading social activists will sit on a day-long fast and then march from India Gate to the Rashtrapati Bhavan to submit the signatures collected during the campaign,” said Ravi Nitesh, another member of movement.
The campaign was launched on Sunday in 21 States and around 300 signatures were collected in Delhi, he said. Signatures would be collected on banners and “signature sheets” distributed at different places by volunteer groups and supporters.
“The next step is to reach out to as many people as we can. We have student coordinators in all Delhi University colleges, who will distribute signature sheets till December,” said Mr. Nitesh. The campaign would also approach other public and private universities in the capital.
The campaign has laid down four main demands: initiating a dialogue with Ms. Sharmila, sending an all-party delegation for talks, sending members of the National Commission for Women to assess her condition and deputing a special team of doctors from New Delhi to examine her.
As part of the campaign, a caravan of supporters will travel from Srinagar to Imphal, covering 10 States, between October 16 and 26. A cycle rally will also be organised at State levels.
At present, the campaign is supported by over 50 organisations across the country and it is reaching out to people through different media, including streetplays and distribution of pamphlets.