Need to inform people about Irom Sharmila: Sharmila Tagore

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NEW DELHI, May 22 (Agencies): A panel of intellectuals including actors, filmmakers and journalists have appealed to the people to join activist Irom Chanu Sharmila in her demand for annulling the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in Manipur.

“People know Irom Sharmila only as a lady with a tube in her nose. Even I for that matter got to know about her only five years ago. There is a need to raise awareness about her,” veteran Bollywood actor Sharmila Tagore said while speaking at the launch of a book `Iron Irom Two Journeys – Where the Abnormal is Normal`, authored by documentary filmmaker Minnie Vaid on Tuesday.

“Her saga is extremely moving. She is the face of the process which is adopted by her. Her way of protest is important as it is non- violent. I am ashamed that I came to know about her five years ago. We need to inform the people about her struggle and the cause she is standing for,” said Sharmila Tagore.

The actress said she considered the activist as a “hugely spiritual and exceptional person.”

The panel discussion coincided with the completion of 55 years AFSPA, after it was imposed on May 22, 1958. Irom Sharmila, began a total hunger strike, without food or water since November 4, 2004 against the AFSPA and authorities have been force feeding her a cocktail of vitamins, minerals, laxatives, protein supplements and lentil soup through the nose with a rubber pipe.

Author and documentary filmmaker Minnie Vaid said she had written the book to generate awareness about the activist`s struggle.

“The media is least bothered in the struggle of Irom Sharmila and `Iron Irom` is a book which I have written for those people who don`t know Irom Sharmila,” Minnie Vaid said.

Vaid, who has worked extensively in the strife-torn state, asked why the government was silent over Sharmila`s peaceful protest. “Let`s talk more and more about Sharmila and write books on her. We have to support anti-AFSPA movement if we respect her and want her to lead a normal life,” Vaid said.

Pradip Phanjoubam, Group Editor of the Imphal Free Press was also present on the occasion. “AFSPA is the failure of liberal India. Its existence in the state is biggest failure for the country,” Phanjoubam said.

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