Sharmila’s sketch on the Ripley’s website
Imphal, May 8: Manipur rights crusader Irom Sharmila has found a place on the pages of Ripley’s Believe it or Not.
Ripley’s put up Sharmila’s sketch, along with a brief note on her struggle, on its website on April 13 this year.
Sharmila shares the page with two other items — one about the removal of a 200-pound tumour from the right leg of a Vietnamese and the other about Russia’s Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest lake which is home to the only completely freshwater species of seal.
Lucas Stram, researcher, Ripley Entertainment, conveyed this information to Kshetrimayum Olin, a trustee of Just Peace Foundation, an Imphal-based NGO, which is coordinating Sharmila’s campaign. Olin is a member of the foundation.
“Irom Sharmila Chanu, an Indian political activist known as the Iron Lady of Manipur, has been on a continuous hunger strike since Novemebr 2, 2000, to protest against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act which dates back more than 50 years,” the brief note on Sharmila reads.
“I was informed about this by Lucas Stram, one of the research team members of Ripley’s recently. He sent me the page a few days back,” Olin told this correspondent today.
Sharmila began her hunger strike after troops of the Assam Rifles gunned down 10 civilians at Malom near Imphal airport on November 1, 2000 in retaliation to a militant attack.
Sharmila has been demanding repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, saying it was responsible for human rights violations in the state by the armed forces.
She is charged with attempting to commit suicide, an offence punishable with a one-year jail term.
Ever since Sharmila was freed at the end of a year in jail, she was rearrested a number of times after she refused to call off her hunger strike.
She refused to budge from her stand even when the Okram Ibobi Singh government withdrew the act from Imphal municipal limits in August 2004.
She had insisted that the act should be repealed and she would end her fast only after the repeal.
The last time she was freed was on March 12 this year and she was re-arrested the next day and taken back to jail.
Sharmila is put inside the security ward of the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal and she is surviving on forced nasal feeding.
“Sharmila’s campaign is gaining momentum, as shown by inclusion of her struggle on Ripley’s website. Sharmila firmly believes that one day she will emerge victorious and have her demand fulfilled,” Olin said.
Irom Singhajit, Sharmila’s elder brother, said though Ripley’s inclusion of his sister had made the family happy, their complete happiness would come only after the act was repealed and Sharmila earned her freedom.