‘Iron Lady’ Irom Chanu Sharmila, who is also known as ‘Mengoubi’ (fair one) visited Senapati district and interacted with students, women leaders and civil society leaders at Hope Center, MANEDA, at Monday market in Senapati town today.
Appreciating the NGO for its laudable works and projects implemented in the district, Sharmila took time to interact with differently-abled children who are provided special care and education coupled with health services by MANEDA, Hope Center.
“There is no democracy in Manipur and there is a serious need to bring positive changes,” the world renowned anti-AFSPA crusader, political activist and poet said.
During the interactions she spoke about her movement, appealing to the people to collectively remove the draconian law.
The rights activist who will contest the upcoming Manipur Assembly election noted that transformation from a global icon of protest and the most recognizable face of resistance in the conflict-ridden state into a political leader is a bias identification by certain agencies.
She said “I am a human being, and why those agencies and certain elements are keeping me in their own version? As a human being I feel everything. Why are they trying to isolate me,” she asked.
“People say politics is dirty, so is society,” Sharmila averred, adding that people may be negative towards her new decision but they don’t want any real change and wish to see her just as a symbol of resistance.
Sharmila began her hunger strike since November, 2000 and ended her fast on August 9, after nearly 16 years of fasting. Having refused food and water for more than 500 weeks, she has been called “the world’s longest hunger striker”.
Sharmila ended her fast exactly a month after a Supreme Court judgment questioned the immunity enjoyed by the security personnel under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958.
The apex court had said last month that there was no concept of “absolute immunity” from trial by a criminal court if an army man had committed an offence.
The decision to end her fast came as a surprise considering her earlier statements that she would eat rice from her mother’s hand the day AFSPA is repealed as the Act is still enforced in Manipur.
However, the objective of her fast and entering politics is to fight for the removal of AFSPA as she has asserted. “I will join politics and my fight will continue,” she said.
She met her mother only once since the start of her 16 years fast as seeing her mother’s anguish may break her resolve.
On International Women’s Day, 2014 she was voted the top woman icon of India by MSN poll.