GUWAHATI, Aug 29 (NNN): After having had led the `peoples`s victory` on the Jan Lokpal issue in the national capital, noted crusader Anna Hazare has put his focus now in the North East India region, thanks to Irom Sharmila of Manipur and RTI activist Akhil Gogoi of Assam.
Anna Hazare, the 74-year-old crusader has decided to take up two seemingly regional issues that “will come to impact all Indians in the long run”. The demand for the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) of 1958 and the campaign against the construction of mega dams are the concerns of Anna Hazare now.
“Hazare has made up his mind to visit Northeast first soon after recuperating and getting back to work,” said Assam-based RTI activist and Team Anna member Akhil Gogoi here on Monday. “His mission includes rallies against big hydropower projects threatening the existence of people in the Northeast and a trip to (Manipur capital) Imphal to lend support to the cause of Irom Sharmila Chanu.”
Hazare’s tour plan, Gogoi added, was drawn up during a recent core committee meeting of Team Anna.
Sharmila, 38, has been fasting since 4 November 2000 after Assam Rifles personnel gunned down 10 civilians at a bus stand near Imphal Airport apparently while chasing rebels. Her crusade has been against the AFSPA, which activists say gives soldiers the license to kill and stage fake encounters.
Sharmila’s cause became a topic of discussion after activists in Manipur underscored the nation’s indifference to her 10-year fast against the AFSPA, “which, like corruption, spares no one.”
“Hazare’s proposed visit is an encouragement for us,” said Sharmila’s brother Irom Singhajit, 53. “We hope his involvement will take my sister’s cause to the national stage.”
Team Anna had last week invited Sharmila to be a part of the anti-corruption movement in New Delhi. Sharmila wrote back requesting Hazare to get her released so she could join him. Irom Sharmila also asked Hazare to visit Manipur to lend support to her cause.