IMPHAL, May 13 – Ten years since Irom Sharmila launched her unwavering struggle against the AFSPA, civil rights groups – People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) and National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) – have called for a three-month long nationwide campaign for the repeal of the “martial law”.
“It is a shame that a non-violent protester has been subjected to such humiliation for more than ten years”, stated PUCL and NAPM. “Globally, in the history of non-violent resistance, this struggle is unmatched in terms of its resilience and sustaining power.”
“The draconian act of AFSPA has been implemented in Northeastern States since 1958 and in J&K since 1991. After a brief discussion, the Parliament endorsed the ordinance as an Act on August 18, 1958, despite stiff resistance from various quarters,” said a statement by PUCL and NAPM.
The rights groups maintained that “if the struggle of Irom Sharmila fails, it will be a failure of the entire democratic movements in this country as well as a deep scar on Indian democracy for generations.”
While pointing out the defects of the law, the statement went on to say that “this law is more draconian than its predecessor ordinance used by the British to suppress the Quit India Movement. It gave extraordinary powers to members of the armed forces, to arrest without warrant and shoot to kill on the basis of suspicion; and no legal action can be taken up against the armed forces without prior sanction form the Centre.”
In protest against the continuous clamping of the Act for the past 54 years in the region and in support of the decade-long fast-unto-death struggle by Sharmila, PUCL and NAPM gave a clarion call to all democratic forums, human rights groups and peoples’ movements to come together, from May 22 to August 19, in the struggle to repeal AFSPA by organising public protests, dharnas, relay hunger fasts, public meetings and seminars, and by organising film screenings and plays.