By Kritika Dagar
“The mob is the mother of tyrants”
For 16 years when she fasted for the repealing of the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Manipur, Irom Sharmila was called many names: Iron Lady, Mengoubi – the fair one. She was a heroine, for her people.
Yet, when she ended the fast in August last year to contest elections for the same cause, her people abandoned her.
With only 90 votes in the assembly elections of Thoubal, Manipur, as against 18,649 of three-time CM Okram Ibobi Singh, it was a humiliation beyond words.
When she had announced the decision to enter politics, even some of her family members did not support her. But she persisted with her crowd funded campaign, went door to door to talk to people and gather their support.
She had fasted for 16 years- the longest recorded hunger strike in the world- a fast which she started when she was just in her late 20s, an age where most of us are busy aiming for career goals, having the time of our lives and getting married. She gave up her goal of becoming a doctor and everything else. Is that all the support she will get for fighting with so much dedication for more than 16 years for the human rights of her people?
The dedication was such that she said that she will contest elections again if she lost. But 90 votes? – this revoked her decision to enter politics ever again.
She was politically inexperienced, I agree, but are we so blind that we cannot see that actions speak louder than words? Especially, more than the sugar coated words of experienced politicians.
Somewhere along the line, I think the fact that she ended the fast and announced her decision to get married, infuriated her supporters. Perhaps they thought she was a goddess, above the normal life others imagine for themselves. But she is only human. Breaking the fast which led to no result for more than a decade was inevitable.
The result has once again proved right all those people who believe politics is a game for the shrewd, not for the ones who want to bring actual change.
But Sharmila, being the Iron Lady that she is, has not yet abandoned the cause. She will fight for human rights again through activism, lobbying for repeal of the AFSPA along with other activists.
A burning example of how simplicity and innocence are awarded by people for those who fight for them and their rights!
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