AN OPEN LETTER TO THE MINISTER OF DEFENCE FROM A GANDHIAN ACTIVIST
REQUESTING THE GOVERNMENT TO
TAKE ACTION IN THE CASE OF REPEALING THE AFSPA ACT 1958
AS PER THE PLEAS MADE BY THE FASTING ACTIVIST IROM SHARMILA
Dated: 25th August, 2014
Shri Arun Jaitley
Minister of Corporate Affairs, Defense, and Finance
Room No 134, North Block,
I would like to bring to your kind notice that the local court in the city of Imphal, Manipur has ordered recently on 19th August, 2014 to release the activist Irom Chanu Sharmila, under detention for attempting to commit suicide by fasting for nearly 14 years demanding withdrawal of a tough law that gives sweeping powers to armed forces from Manipur.
Three days after her release, Manipuri police re-arrested this 42-year-old anti-AFSPA activist Irom Sharmila after taking her away from a protest site. She has been taken back to her ward at the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences (JNIMS) to be force fed through her nose. She had been without any kind of nutrition since the time she had been released Wednesday evening.
I would like to reiterate a point of humanitarian and legal standing here to humbly inform you that her agitation was a political demand through a lawful means of repealing a valid statue AFSPA (Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958.) She is released and rearrested every year as the law allows detention only for 364 days.
The activist had launched her fast after the killing of 10 people allegedly by Assam Rifles in a suspected encounter with insurgents at Malom near Imphal airport in November 2000.
It is understood that the details of the crimes allegedly committed by the Army, the CRPF and police commandos were revealed in a series of inquiry reports filed by serving and retired district judges, adding impetus to the cry for justice and repeal of AFSPA by the activist. On August 8, 2014, the Manipur government handed over the reports to a Supreme Court Bench led by Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
The report said: “They (armed forces) think themselves placed at the elevated status of impunity by the legislation and think wrongly they are given license to do whatever they like.”
I would like to bring to your kind attention that Irom Sharmila has been treated inhumanly in a un-civilized way repeatedly by the police forces under false pretensions of attempting for a suicide. In an interview on 24th August, she reaffirmed her standpoint stating, “I will continue to fast till the oppressive Act is repealed. I am not concerned about my health deteriorating. But I am certainly not making an attempt to end my life. I will not accept any State offer of treatment. If the government wants to save me, it should repeal the AFSPA.”
Clearly, it has a political note in its core of the demands and methodical agitation while it requires an action that revert the ongoing crisis which is poorly dramatized and managed by the authorities. For around 14 years, this ordeal is going on with little attention from the Center. This 42 year old women activist, the atrocities of the armed forces, the loopholes in the AFSPA and the misuse of the AFSPA – all these are not a matter of neglect and indifference, but needs to be addressed in order to maintain law and order situation in the state of Manipur and the country as a whole.
Several social and civil rights groups, including the Save Sharmila campaign, have the similar notion on this issue where an innocent, noble lady and the powerless people are being abused continually with no sign of humanitarian gesture in acceptable standards. A nonviolent, Gandhian method of protest has been taken for granted by the authorities who had not only behaved brutal, but brought defame and liability to the Father of our nation.
Hereby, I hope that these efforts made by us would change the perception of the Central government on the protests by Irom Sharmila and lead to a morally, legally viable step that brings peace and harmony to thousands of supporters wanting to repeal the AFSPA. We also believe that the newly elected Government of India would take this matter as a matter of urgency to speed up the cases filed in the local court by the victims of abuse.
Shri. Balamurali Balaji
Member – Save Sharmila Campaign
Thanks for this avenue, am noting, and will also send a letter. Bless you!