Please do not put me on a pedestal: Sharmila

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Court denies request to meet Desmond

By Paojel Chaoba

IMPHAL, January 3: “Please do not put me on a pedestal, I am just a protestor,” Irom Sharmila told mediapersons when she was escorted out from court today.

The iconic activist was produced before the judicial magistrate first class, Imphal East Ojesh Mutum today at noon. She deposed in confidence inside the judge’s chamber and according to her prayer, Sharmila wanted to meet journalists from outside the state who were present at the court complex today. She also wanted to interact with one Desmond Continho from Ireland and hand him some gifts.

But, according to the assistant public prosecutor’s submission to the judge, since there was a presence of a large number of meira paibis at the court complex there was a possibility of an ugly situation being created in the event of an interaction between Sharmila and Desmond. The judge acted in accordance to the suggestion and denied Sharmila’s request.

The judge in his order mentioned that interested persons may interact with her at the JNIMS security ward where she is presently lodged after obtaining permission from jail authorities. Regarding Sharmila’s gift to Desmond, the judge decided that handing over a corduroy pant, a painting and letter to Desmond Continho was of personal significance and will not have any security concern and there should not be any objection. The gifts were later handed over to him after she was escorted away from court.

According to the regulations of an under trial prisoner, every accused is to be produced before the court every fifteen days. Hence Sharmila also stated before the judge that she had no medical problems. She was further remanded into judicial custody till January 18, 2014.

The court entrance saw a tense moment as many meira paibis and other concerned persons had gathered at the spot including Desmond Continho. Sharmila arrived at the court complex at around 11.30 am but was not escorted out of the van till 11.45 am. From the window of the van, she had charged the officer of the escort team that she was feeling suffocated inside the vehicle and demanded to be escorted inside the court. “My rights have been violated and I am more aware of my own individual rights,” she shouted to the officer. Later, additional police re-enforcements were also called in and Lamphel OC also came personally to the spot.

The meira paibis and journalists were not allowed to enter the court complex. However, the IFP reporter who managed to get inside the court building asked Sharmila about her opinion on the present state of AFSPA and her stance.  “I am not God and am just doing protesting against AFSPA. Without the support of the public we cannot expect any positive result on removal of AFSPA from the state. Mahatma Gandhi freed the public from the British as he was supported by the masses. I feel that in our campaign, the public has not rallied to that extent to pressurize the Centre to remove AFSPA from Manipur,” Sharmila told this reporter.

Sharmila also tried to interact with a journalist from a national paper and had called out to him, but the security persons surrounding the van had denied that by pushing the reporter away. Sharmila was also pushed into the van and not allowed to interact with media persons by the security escort. She waved her hand to some persons outside and was in tears.

She was also carrying a check of Rs 2 lakh to hand it over to the titular king Leisemba Sanajaoba and had expected to do it personally at the court complex. However, Leisemba also did not make an appearance in court today.  

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