Netizens support Irom Sharmila

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NEW DELHI, April 12 (IANS): They went all out to support Anna Hazare`s fast against corruption, and now netizens are rooting for Manipur`s `Iron Lady` Irom Chanu Sharmila, who has been on hunger strike for 10 years to demand repealing of AFSPA, a controversial law that gives sweeping powers to the armed forces.”After Anna Hazare`s effort, I am supporting Irom Chanu Sharmila. Are you?” writes Bhautik Sheth on Facebook.

“If the demand for Anna can be met in a few hours of fast, why her demand can`t be met when she is on a fast for 10 years?” writes Reshma.

Sharmila is on a fast since Nov 4, 2000, demanding repealing of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act from Manipur and other states of the country`s Northeast.

Her story, more than a decade old, started with the infamous Malom massacre of November 2000 when 10 people, including a 1988 National Child Bravery Award winner, were gunned down by security forces in Malom town of Imphal valley.
The paramilitary forces claimed the civilians died in cross-firing.

“The lack of government response convinced Irom Sharmila Chanu, then 28, to act. On the evening of Nov 4, after taking blessings from her mother, she launched her hunger strike against the wider problems of AFSPA. In due course she extended the scope of her demand to all regions of India`s northeast where AFSPA has been imposed,” says the Facebook page on Sharmila.

AFSPA confers special powers upon the armed forces in “disturbed areas”, including most of the northeast and Jammu and Kashmir. Enacted 52 years ago, it gives sweeping powers to the security forces to curb terrorism – and many like Sharmila say it has been widely misused.

“She has not met her mother once these 10 years: her pact with her unlettered mother is that they will see each other only after she achieves her political goal. Her body organs have begun to degenerate irreversibly; her menstrual periods have halted. The tube through which she is forcefully fed is continuously painful,” reads a cause dedicated to demanding a Nobel prize for the woman, who is popularly called the `Iron Lady of Manipur`.

The page has so far been supported by over 8,400 people.

Sharmila is fed forcefully, three times a day, through a nasal tube, which has become a part of her identity being featured in all her pictures.

“Anna`s fast got its hearing, why not Irom,” writes Asha Singh, a Madhya Pradesh based journalist on her Facebook page.

“The younger generation of Manipur is indeed inspired by this Iron woman deeply. We all stand by Sharmila and for the cause. It`s all about a balanced democracy and governance all over the country. Certain section of Indian society, specially NE (northeast) and particularly Manipur, should be treated differently or step-motherly. We want equality in all aspects..!,” writes Robindro, who hails from Imphal.

Micro-blogging site Twitter too has comments comparing Sharmila`s fast to that of Gandhian Anna Hazare, reminding people about her and asking why her fast has not been heard.

“Irom Sharmila will be on hunger strike while the establishment continues to ignore her… worth sparing a thought,” writes Avinash Iyer on Twitter.

Anna Hazare, who is from Maharashtra, was on a fast unto death last week to demand a strong anti-graft Lokpal Bill with the involvement of civil society. But 97 hours later, he broke his hunger strike as the government gave into his demands.

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