| Singhajit (left) receives the award from writer Mahasweta Devi on behalf of Irom Sharmila in Calcutta on Saturday. File picture |
Imphal, Oct. 28: Irom Singhajit, elder brother of rights activist Irom Sharmila, who received an award conferred upon her by a Kerala-based organisation on her behalf yesterday at a function in Calcutta, today returned it according to Sharmila’s earlier expressed wishes.
Sharmila, during her routine court appearance on October 9, had announced that she would not receive awards conferred upon her, until her demand for repeal of the Armed Forces (special powers) Act was fulfilled.
Writer activist Mahasweta Devi gave away the first Kovilan Smaraka Activists India National Award instituted by the Kovilan Trust at a function held at Calcutta Press Club yesterday.
A three-member jury selected Sharmila from among short-listed activists, which included Binayak Sen, Medha Patkar and Arundhati Roy.
The award comprised a cash prize of Rs 50,000 and a citation.
“The Just Peace Foundation decided to attend the programme and receive the award in honour of the Kerala trust for acknowledging her struggle and also returned it according to Sharmila’s wishes,” Singhajit, a trustee member of the Just Peace Foundation, said.
Singhajit said he, along with another trustee of the foundation and rights activist Babloo Loitongbam, went to attend the programme to drum up support for Sharmila’s cause.
The two returned to Imphal this afternoon.
“Our efforts did not go in vain. The Kerala trust promised us to form a Sharmila support group in Kerala and launched a campaign to support her demand,” Loitongbam said.
Singhajit requested the Kerala trust to keep the award safely in its custody so that if Sharmila decided to receive it after her goal was achieved, she could do so.
The trust agreed to the request, Singhajit said.
The trust instituted the award in memory of writer Kovilan Smaraka, a soldier with the real name of V.V. Ayyappan. He wrote books on his experiences as a soldier.
The Just Peace Foundation, a Sharmila support group, is yet to give Sharmila the news of the award.
Singhajit will meet her when she appears in court on November 3.
“It takes more than a month to get permission from the government to meet her in jail. And sometimes the permission is denied,” Singhajit said.
He said the foundation would move the court for permission to meet her once every month.