Yet again! She is behind the bars. This is the way we treat our activists. Yes, I am talking about the ‘Iron lady’ of Manipur, Irom Sharmila. With no intake of food and water for more than 500 weeks, she has been called the “world’s longest hunger striker.”
She is a social activist and known for her strike against the AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Power Act). Her fast began in November 2000, when Assam Rifles (one of the Indian parliamentary forces) shot 10 innocent civilians at the Imphal Bus station. Some of these Special Forces have been misusing their powers and torturing people because they have the autonomy to do anything. Her main motive was to banish those Special Armed Forces of India or at least reduce their autonomy. She could not bear the fact that her people were traumatized by these ‘autonomous forces’ .It has been 14 years now and her life’s motto still keeps her spirits high.
Committing to an indefinite fast is never easy and it becomes all the more difficult when your efforts are not even cared for. If you are doing the same in East India, your life is surely going to be a hell. No media will support you, no government agency will come to reconcile the matter with you, no one will come with a glass of orange juice to break your fast. Instead, the government might spend 50,000 bucks a month just to break your fast by force-feeding. How hard life gets for our activists.
This can happen only in India. A woman working all her life to get justice for her fellow citizens gets arrested repeatedly for accusation of committing suicide. An activist ready to do everything for society’s welfare has to go through a trauma for 14 long years and even then, there is not a single initiative from the authorities for the cause. A fight for a simple justice continues and even then, you do not get a verdict. Are we so insensitive? Our government has given so much autonomy to some forces or institutions that even if they are misusing those powers, nobody cares about it.
Is her protest really making a difference? She might be an ardent follower of ahimsa, but the fact remains that nothing has changed. Her pain is, actually, taking her nowhere except those annual trips inside and out of judicial custody. AAP and Congress offered her a seat in the Lok Sabha as well as State elections respectively but she rejected those offers because she sees herself as a protestor not as a politician. Had she accepted those proposals, her situation would have been completely different. Her followers would have increased manifold and some substantial contribution to society could have been there. Working on Mahatma Gandhi’s principle might not work for Government today. There has to be something more aggressive.
Her pains, her steadfastness, her determination will always inspire us all to always stand against injustice. She has not shouted but her voice, her motive has been communicated clearly to the country. Surely, this iron lady of India demands a hearty salute.