TODAY -

Irom Sharmila expresses solidarity with Anna
Source: Hueiyen News Service

Imphal, August 23 2011: Manipur's 'Iron Lady' Irom Sharmila Chanu on Tuesday expressed her solidarity with the anti-corruption movement of social activist Anna Hazare.

Sharmila, who has been on a fast, for over ten years, demanding the revocation of the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, wrote a letter to Anna extending her support.

In her letter, Sharmila requested Anna Hazare to speak to the concerned authorities for her freedom so that she could join him in his "amazing crusade to root out corruption which is the root of all evils".

Yesterday, close aides of Sharmila had ruled out an unconditional support and spoken about the need for reciprocity from Team Anna towards her cause.

She has been demanding a repeal of AFSPA from NE and has been on fast since last ten years.

Many observers doubt if Anna, a former soldier, would support her cause which is against an act that ensures protection of armed forces from civilian litigations.

Her own aides accept that though the method of protest in both cases is Gandhian, the causes are entirely different.

For Team Anna to get Sharmila on board would mean a wider acceptance of his movement.

Many Anna Hazare critics have been invoking Sharmila's case to argue that the government was indifferent to the latter's cause but capitulating to the "blackmailing tactics" of the former.

Some critics of the anti-corruption movement have also questioned the conscience of Anna's middle class supporters for being apathetic to Sharmila's indefinite fast.

Sharmila, the anti-AFSPA campaigner, is currently under judicial custody.

She has been lodged at the security ward of JNIMS in Imphal where she is being forced-fed through her nose.

She launched her crusade against AFSPA after AR personnel killed ten civilians at Malom village near Imphal airport on November 2, 2000.Sharmila went on an indefinite fast after the incident, demanding the repeal of the military act that gives unbridled powers to the armed forces including the power to shoot people on mere suspicion.

In an interview with Ratnadip Choudhury which was published in Tehelka.com, Sharmila told Ratnadip, "I have heard of Anna Hazare's protest.

Non-violence, taught to us by the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi, is the only means to achieve solutions.

It is really good that the nation has woken up to corruption and the protest is centred at New Delhi so the lawmakers will be able to understand the intensity.

We also once tried to take our fight to New Delhi by staging protests at Jantar Mantar but we did not get support from the rest of the nation, perhaps because AFSPA only affects the NE and J&K.But the country should take it as an issue concerning the nation.

Protesting here at Imphal and New Delhi is perhaps far better than if Anna had staged his protest here in Manipur, because the official response would not have been so vigorous.

The Centre has never tried to lend an ear to our cause, the national media, barring a few, has been insensitive to the NE, and this is a symbolic example of discrimination" .

Sharmila's support for the anti-corruption movement, came after Team Anna invited her to join the movement for a strong Jan Lok Pal Bill.

Babloo Loitongbam, Human Rights Activist and close associate of Sharmila said that she wrote a letter while in judicial custody after receiving Anna's invitation.

Quoting her letter, Babloo said that she would not be able to attend Anna's fast as she was in the judicial custody.

But she has expressed her solidarity with Anna's crusade against corruption, he added.

In her letter, Sharmila said that corruption was wide spread in Manipur and it was the root cause of all the problems.

She also invited Anna to visit Manipur.

Babloo said the Just Peace Foundation, a trust formed for the cause of Sharmila's unrelenting struggle against AFSPA, had discussed the Team Anna's invitation and Sharmila's reply.

A member of the Just Peace Foundation was likely to attend Anna's movement at Ramlila ground in Delhi, he said.

He added, Manipuris so far, have not shown the level of support as was expected for the cause of Sharmila's fight against the AFSPA.


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