Giving up fast but not stand against AFSPA Let the polls centre around AFSPA

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This is not throwing in the towel. The message has already been delivered and  in a way the Government of India and the military stand defeated. Fasting for 16 long years is not a joke and if the Centre and the military establishment think they can heave a sigh of relief, they are mistaken. The stand against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act will continue. This should not be lost on anyone. Irom Chanu Sharmila has announced that she is going to end her fast on August 9 and turn to politics and far from misreading that she has thrown in the towel, this should be taken as a change in tactics in the fight against the Army Act, which many have dubbed as draconian. From fasting to the political arena, from a lone struggle to trying a fresh approach to take the people along with her commitment in the fight against the Army Act and this is something which should be acknowledged. In giving up her fast, Irom Chanu Sharmila does not stand defeated for remember she had on earlier occasions made it clear that hers was not a fast unto death agitation but a stand against the continued imposition of the Army Act.  This point has been delivered in clear cut terms without any doubt. No doubt she was the rallying point against the continued imposition of AFSPA but in changing tact she can still continue to inspire the people against the said Act and this point should not be lost on anyone.
Sharmila’s announcement must have surely caught the people, not only in Manipur but among all those who have been closely following her protest, by surprise. The end of her fast however should not be taken to mean that she has given up the fight. Moreover this should not mean that the people’s stand against the continued imposition of the said Act has been diluted. To truly respect what Sharmila has done in the last 16 years, the people’s resolve against the said Act should get stronger. This point should not blow over the heads of the Government of India and the military establishment. Enough has been written against the Army Act and it should be more than clear that the Centre does not intend to lift the same any time in the near future. This however should not discourage the people in their stand against such a draconian Act. With Sharmila announcing that she has set her eyes on the upcoming Assembly election, let AFSPA occupy centre stage in the election manifesto of all political parties and candidates. Let the candidates debate on how they intend to approach the subject and accordingly pile the pressure on Delhi. Let the campaigning, debates and canvassing centre around the infamous Army Act and let the people decide. Let the vote be a big no to AFSPA. This should convey the point that the people do respect the 16 years of fast undertaken by Sharmila.

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