Save-Sharmila team threatens hunger strike

Supporters of the campaign in Guwahati on Wednesday. Picture by UB Photos
Guwahati, Oct. 27 : The activists of Kashmir to Imphal Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign, who reached Guwahati today, said they would sit on a hunger strike if they were not allowed to meet the Iron Lady of Manipur in Imphal.
The campaigners will leave for Imphal tomorrow to meet Sharmila, garner public support there and put pressure on New Delhi to meet her demand of scrapping the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958.
“Our group comprises social and human rights activists from states outside the Northeast and we would like to meet Sharmila tomorrow. However, we have heard that no one is allowed to meet her. If we are not allowed to meet her, we will sit on a token hunger strike, which is the non-violent way of protesting, on October 28,” Faisal Khan, leader of National Alliance for People’s Movement, told The Telegraph after a meeting at the Asam Sahitya Sabha here.
The nationwide campaign started in Kashmir on October 16 and has traversed 10 states and travelled about 4,000km to gather public support against the act, which is termed “draconian” by its opponents.
The save-Sharmila campaign is a joint initiative of the people’s movement, Asha Parivar, Gandhi Global Family, Jagriti Mahila Samiti, Khudai Khidmatgar, Yuva Kosish, Mission Bharatiyam and a few other NGOs. Irom Sharmila has been on fast since November 2000 demanding scrapping of the army act from Manipur.
The group is demanding positive steps to hold talks with Sharmila, send an all-party delegation to Imphal, a team of the National Women’s Commission, National Human Rights Commission as well as a special medical team from New Delhi to examine her health condition.
The activists, speaking at the meeting here, accused the Centre of doing injustice to Sharmila by neglecting her demand to scrap the act.
“The people of Manipur have been fighting for long in support of Sharmila and her demand. However, their cry against the ‘black law’ has not been paid any heed by the government at New Delhi. Hence, we decided to form a platform of people from the rest of the country to put pressure on our political class at the Centre to meet Sharmila’s demand,” Khan said.
Santosh Upaddhay, an activist from Bihar who works with jail inmates in his home state, said, “I have been working in jails and I have seen that family members are allowed to meet inmates inside the jail. Unfortunately, Sharmila has been fighting for people of her state and yet is not allowed to meet anyone. This is nothing but violation of her fundamental rights. When the people of Manipur are against the draconian act, we believe that the Centre is doing injustice to the people.”
The campaign made stops at Ludhiana, Karnal, Panipat, Delhi, Aligarh, Kanpur, Lucknow, Varanasi, Ranchi, Patna and Calcutta before reaching Guwahati.