A convention on Repeal AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) was organized here at New Delhi today with the objective to bring demand to repeal AFSPA a political priority. This convention was organized on the eve of November 2 when Irom Sharmila, better known as Iron lady of Manipur is completing 15 years of her hunger strike with the demand to Repeal AFSPA.
Convention was attended by various eminent speakers that includes Neingulo Krom (Secretary General of Naga Peoples’ Movement for Human Rights), Babloo Loitongbam (Human Rights Activist from Manipur), Swami Agnivesh, Prof Nandini Sundar, Prof Deepti Priya Mehrotra , Ashok Agrwaal, Henri from Forum Asia and others. Youths and other activists also attended the convention in large numbers and extended their support towards the cause.
This convention was organized by Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign (SSSC), Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR), Students Islamic Organisation (SIO), Bonded Labour Liberation Front, Just Peace Foundation (JPF), Forum Asia and Human Rights Alert. Those who participated also signed sheets to endorse the demand of Repeal AFSPA from all regions (North east and J&K) and release of Irom Sharmila.
Sharmila, a woman from Manipur is completing 15 years of her hunger protest on November 2. She is observing fast as a form of protest since the year 2000, when she was about 28 years old. She had started it just after Malom massacre where Assam rifles had fired upon local civilians who were waiting at a bus stand in Malom, Imphal (Manipur) and all were killed.
Sharmila decided to register her protest because incidents of torture and killings were common in Manipur and in the veil of the powers under AFSPA, nothing could be done against security personnel. She started her fast and did not leave it since then. She has only demand, Repeal AFSPA, as it is AFSPA that is the main culprit, because it provides extra ordinary powers to security personnel operating in Manipur and other such areas and these powers have been misused widely.
AFSPA has provisions of shoot to kill mere on probability. But it does not stop here, it goes beyond and says that no case can be lodged against security men without prior sanction from central government. Sadly, in all such years, no approval was given by central government and despite hundreds of reported cases of fake killings, torture and rapes, nothing could be done to punish culprits.
As, Irom Sharmila did not give up her fast, Manipur police registered a case against her under section 309 of ‘attempt to suicide’ and put her in jail.
During her release from jail for a day in 2006, Sharmila came to Delhi, paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat and later joined a fast at Jantar Mantar. Delhi Police also registered another case under same section of attempt to suicide here in Delhi and matter went to court. Presently, she is under arrest by Manipur police and living her life in security ward of JLN hospital of Manipur. The case is in Delhi also, is still going on and Sharmila appears before Delhi court on court notices and when Manipur government becomes ready to produce her at Delhi.
Despite her fast since last 15 years and government’s ignorance, even suppression through lodging her behind bars, did not break her faith in democracy or non violence. She always smiles, and tells , ‘I have faith in democracy. Government will listen one day’
Sadly, government is not listening, and even one of her demand to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not been accepted yet. She thinks Prime Minister does not want to meet her as probably government has no reply to all her demands and questions about suppression of people through AFSPA.
Government’s own committees have recommended repeal of this act. Even many fake killings, rapes and cases of disappearances were not only reported but even proved, but till now government has not repealed this Act. Many national and international human rights organizations have also raised their voice to demand the repeal of this Act. State leadership of BJP is in Manipur and PDP in J&K have favored the repeal of this Act, but now they are silent.
Neingulo Krome , Secretary General of NPMHR said “AFSPA is a violation of Human Rights and if India is truly a democratic country then this Act should be removed immediately”.
It was announced that this full week is being observed in solidarity with 15 years of struggle of Irom Sharmila nationwide and at many places protests are happening.