DIMAPUR, NOVEMBER 1
A convention on ‘Repeal AFSPA’ (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) was organized in New Delhi on Sunday with the objective to bring demand of ‘Repeal AFSPA’ in political priorities. This convention was organized on the eve of November 2 when Irom Sharmila, better known as Iron lady of Manipur is completing 15 years of her hunger strike.
The convention was attended by various eminent speakers that included Neingulo Krome, secretary general of Naga Peoples’ Movement for Human Rights, Babloo Loitongbam, noted human rights activist from Manipur, Swami Agnivesh, Prof Nandini Sundar, Prof Deepti Priya Mehrotra , Ashok Agrwaal, Henri from Forum Asia and others. Youths and other activists also attended the convention in large number and extended their supports towards the cause.
According to a statement issued by human rights activist Babloo Loitongbam, this convention was organized by Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign (SSSC), Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR), Students Islamic Organisation (SIO), Bonded Labour Liberation Front, Just Peace Foundation (JPF), Forum Asia and Human Rights Alert. Those who participated also signed sheets to endorse the demand of ‘Repeal AFSPA’ from all regions (North east and J&K) and release of Irom Sharmila.
Irom Sharmila, a woman from Manipur is completing 15 years of her hunger protest on November 2. She is observing fast as a form of protest since the year 2000 when she was about 28 years old, and she had started it just after Malom massacre when Assam Rifles had fired upon local civilians who were waiting at a bus stand in Malom, Imphal (Manipur) and all were killed.
AFSPA has provisions of shoot to kill merely on probability, but it does not stop here, instead it goes beyond and says that no case can be lodged against any security personnel without pre sanction from central government. Sadly, in all such years, no approval was given by central government and despite hundreds of reported cases of fake killings, torture and rape nothing could be done to punish the culprits.
As Irom Sharmila did not leave her fast, Manipur police registered a case against her under section 309 of ‘attempt to suicide’ and put her in jail.
During her release from jail for a day in 2006, Irom Sharmila came to Delhi, paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat and later joined a fast at Jantar Mantar. Delhi Police also registered another case under same section of attempt to suicide here in Delhi and matter went to court. Presently, Irom Sharmila is under arrest by Manipur police and living her life in security ward of JLN hospital of Manipur.
Despite her fast since the last 15 years and government’s ignorance, even suppression through lodging her behind bars, did not break her faith in democracy or non violence. She always smiles and tells, “I have faith in democracy. Government will listen one day.” Sadly, the government is not listening, and even one of her demands to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not been accepted yet. She thinks the Prime Minister does not want to meet her probably the government has no reply for all her demands and questions about suppression of people through AFSPA.
This act, AFSPA as one of the most draconian ones that is not only dangerous to people, but even damages the reputation of security forces of the world’s largest democracy that is advocating for UNSC seat.
The government’s own committees have recommended to repeal this act. Even many fake killings, rapes and cases of disappearances were not only reported but even proved, but till now the government has not repealed this act. Many national and international human rights organizations also raised their voices demanding the repeal of this act. State leadership of BJP in Manipur and PDP in J&K had favoured to repeal of this act, but now they are silent.
Meanwhile, today’s convention started with a statement of families of victims of Malom massacre.
Neingulo Krome, Secretary General of NPMHR said, “AFSPA is a violation of Human Rights and if India is truly a democratic country then this Act should be removed immediately.”
At the end, it was announced that the demand to repeal AFSPA is a collective struggle and also that the demand is very much required to protect human rights as well as democratic values. It was announced that this full week is being observed in solidarity with 15 years struggle of Irom Sharmila nationwide and at many places protests are happening. It was also told that in coming months, this movement will bring more voices together and will start a big movement to demand repeal of AFSPA.