10 years of hunger strike

Irom Chanu Sharmila, the Iron Lady From Manipur, North East India is completing 10 years of her hunger strike in demanding repeal of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, (AFSPA) which has been widely condemned all over the world as a draconian law. Incidently, India which boasts itself as the largest democracy in the world, has been using this law for last 60 years to quell unrest in some selected parts of its territory.

Irom Chanu Sharmila started her fast on November 2, 2000, after 10 civilians including a middle-aged woman were killed in an “encounter” in the heart of Imphal by 8 Assam Rifles.

Ten years passed since she has started her hunger strike, Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation, would have been proud and most probably joined her joined her hunger strike for few days! But then, today we do not have Mahatma Gandhi, and so AFSPA is still there and Sharmila is still on hunger strike!

Her hunger strike has ensured that AFSPA has been withdrawn from greater Imphal. Also, in 2004, the Government of India constituted the Justice B P Jeevan Reddy Commission to review and/or suggest measures to replace the AFSPA with a “more humane” Act. However, while the commission submitted a 147-page report on the issue on June 6, 2005, clearly stating that the Act be repealed, this is yet to happen.

We salute the brave daughter of Manipur in North East India and appeal government of India to implement Justice B P Jeevan Reddy Commission Report. If AFSPA could not wipe out terrorism/insurgency in last 60 years from North East India, it will not be able to do so in next 60 years too.

Indian government should now try wiping out terrorism in North East India by removing AFSPA from here.

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