IMPHAL, October 28: The Kovilan Smaraka Activist India National Award 2012 awarded to Irom Sharmila has been handed back to the Kovilan Trust by the Just Peace Foundation on behalf of the iconic hunger striker and in furtherance of her wishes to not accept any further awards.
It may be mentioned that Irom Sharmila was produced at Cheirap Court on October 9. On the day, she had appealed the Judge to grant her permission for meeting the press. The request was denied by the court.
On her way out from Court, she had mentioned to scribes that her right to express herself has been denied and as protesting the issue had made her decision of not accepting any awards tendered to her from any individual or organization.
Speaking to mediapersons in the regard at Manipur Press Club today, JPF trustee Loitongbam Babloo along with Irom Singhajit (Sharmila’s elder brother) went to Kolkotta to attend the award ceremony which was held at Kolkota Press Club yesterday.
In honoring the award which was given by Kovilan Trust, they had attended the function. “The ethos of the selection board wanted to convey that the basic rights of a citizen cannot be violated, hence we had acknowledged the gesture of the Kovilan Trust,” Babloo said.
He added that the motive of attending the function was also to highlight the stance of Sharmila to the gathering present at the function.
“We gave back the award with an assurance that it will be claimed once Sharmila attains her objective of removing AFSPA from Manipur”, he mentioned further.
The Kovilan Trust had also assured to fully support Sharmila’s stance and on further pressing the Home Ministry regardingly.
Irom Singhajit added that the state Home Department is not being fair to Sharmila and her family members as various red tap procedures had to be passed in seeking permit for meeting her.
He said the presenter of the Kovilan award, a reputed writer and activist Mahasweta Devi was refused permission to visit Sharmila in 2009.
“Including family members,activists from other states, it takes at least one month to be able to meet her and sometimes the appeal is just rejected,”.
He said that the state home department will be urged to relax the strict rules for visitors and family members in meeting Shramila, otherwise the matter would be pursued at court.
It may be mentioned that the Kovilan Smaraka award was conferred to Sharmila after short listing other activists of stature including Arundhati Roy, Medha Patkar and Binayak Sen.
The award is constituted in memory of late V.V. Ayyapan, popularly known as Kovilan to honor eminent personalities committed to fight for the rights of ordinary people in India. It carries a cash award of Rs 50,000 and memento.