Sharmila adopts a totally new approach Anti-AFSPA crusader decides to break fast, set to join electoral politics

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Sharmila-copyIMPHAL, Jul 26: In a dramatic turnaround, Irom Sharmila Chanu who has been crusading against the infamous Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958 for the last 16 years with fasting as her only weapon has announced that she would break the historic, unprecedented fast.
Briefing media persons at Cheirap Court complex today after appearing before the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Imphal West, Sharmila stated that she no longer feels she can win the battle against AFSPA with fasting as her sole weapon.
She said she will continue her battle against the dreaded legislation from a political platform. Sharmila said that she would contest the Manipur Legislative Assembly election as an independent candidate.
“I’m determined to break the fast on August 9 when I    would appear before the Court”, she said.
“My goal cannot be achieved by the democratic means of fasting nor through violent means when the democratic rights are not respected”, she said.
The political rulers who have been occupying the seat of power after buying voting rights with crores of rupees have never paid any attention to the popular demand to scrap AFSPA.
The popular aspiration can never be fulfilled until and unless the existing political and administrative system is overhauled, Sharmila continued.
On being enquired if she has any particularly Assembly segment in her mind, the iconic hunger striker said that the Assembly Constituency to which her locality belongs may be appropriate.
Notably, Sharmila’s native village Kongpal Kongkham Leikai belongs to Khurai AC.
She further confided that she is opened to alliance with all like-minded independent candidates.
“If the electorates do not acknowledge by sufferings for the last 16 years and sell off their voting rights and if I lose the election, I would not be ashamed. But I would not return to fasting”, Sharmila categorically stated.
“As a crusader for human rights, I wish my campaign ends in victory. For the last 16 years, I did not touch a single morsel of food. I’m aware my life will enter a totally new phase when I start eating again”, she continued.
She also conveyed keen desire to share a drop of liquid food with young people who have not been listed in the electoral roll and read out her poetry Paomen on the day she is freed from detention.
“Even though the public particularly civil society organisations have been closely monitoring my personal life, people’s support to my struggle against AFSPA has been steadily waning. People should not remain silent even if they are not direct victims of AFSPA for the draconian Act affects dignity of life and creates a feeling of insecurity for one and all”, Sharmila said.
Head Constable Th Herojit confessed to killing Sanjit in cold blood before media but the people could not bring anything positive out of this startling confession.
On the issue of ILPS, the anti-AFSPA crusader said that young students have been used as weapons and one of them had been forcibly given the title of ‘martyr’.
The issue of ILPS originated from the lack of work culture among the indigenous people and the general attitude of political leaders who are only concerned about winning elections.
Notably, Assam Rifles troops shot dead 10 civilians at Malom Lamkhai on November 2, 2000. Three days after the Malom Massacre, Sharmila launched her historic hunger strike from November 5.
Since then she has been detained under IPC Section 309 on the charge of attempting to commit suicide although she was freed periodically only to be re-arrested.

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