A nationwide march on ‘Save Sharmila Campaign’ to extend public support to Irom Sharmila’s decade-long struggle against the controversial Armed Forces (Special) Powers Act reached here today.
A 25-member activist team including seven women who took part in the 4500-km nationwide tour ‘Jan Karvan’ march covering more than 10 States was planned for mobilizing public opinion on revoking the AFSPA from Jammu and Kashmir and the North-East India. Social activist Medha Patkar flagged off the march from Srinagar on October 16. Social activists like Binayak Sen, writer Arundhati Roy and a host of intellectuals, litterateurs, artistes and activists have supported the campaign.
Several NGOs representatives welcomed them on their arrival here in the morning and took out a peace rally in Imphal streets with slogan supporting Sharmila’s 11 years of fast before they converged at Kongpal, the birth place of Sharmila for a public meeting in Imphal East district.
Faizal Khan of National Alliance for People’s Movement who headed the activist team, speaking during the meeting said that they came here to press for justice besides showing solidarity to Sharmila’s decade-old struggle against the draconian law. He added that no guns will bring out the solution.
The anti-AFSPA campaigners are scheduled to meet Sharmila and hold a day-long hunger strike prior to their departure on Friday. On December 10, which is celebrated as International Human Rights day, volunteers of the solidarity campaign will fast at New Delhi’s Rajghat.
Manipur human rights activist Sharmila, 38, has been on a hunger strike since November, 2000 to have the Act – which provides unlimited powers to security forces to shoot at sight and arrest anybody without a warrant – repealed. She launched the indefinite hunger strike after she heard the killing of 10 people by armymen in Malom, on the outskirts Imphal. Confined to a JNIMS hospital ward in Imphal East district, she is at present being force-fed food through a nasal tube.