Abhay Deol at the book reading and discussion session at the launch. Telegraph picture
Imphal, March 10: A book on Irom Sharmila, Iron Irom: Two Journeys, was released by Bollywood actor Abhay Deol, at a function in Mumbai on Friday on International Women’s Day.
The book, jointly authored by documentary filmmaker and writer Minnie Vaid and poet-activist Irom Sharmila, was released at Kitab Khana in Mumbai.
Abhay, a supporter of the rights crusader, promised to continue his support of Sharmila and creating awareness about her among his film fraternity.
This is the third book on Sharmila’s struggle published by authors outside Manipur.
There also four to five books published in Manipur on her struggle. The book provides a background for the crusader’s 1,000-word poem titled Birth and is a personal, first-hand introduction of life in Manipur, the intricacies of the army act and related violations.
It also contains interviews with various people close to Sharmila, including her family and concluders with a brief interview with her.
Vaid emphasised that respect and admiration for Sharmila had to go hand in hand with support for her cause to repeal the act. She also asked more people to join in Sharmila’s struggle so the movement could be more broad-based and known to the public at large.
The release of the book also coincided with the launch of a nation-wide Save Sharmila Week yesterday in Chennai. The campaign will conclude on March 14, which is also Sharmila’s birthday. The campaign is being coordinated by National Alliance for People’s Movement.
According to Sharmila’s wishes, no celebration would take place on her birthday in Manipur.
In the hour-long book reading and discussion session that followed the release, writers and journalists like Jerry Pinto, Kalpana Sharma and Dilnaz Boga talked of the need to keep Sharmila alive in the public consciousness, in the media and in the minds and hearts of people.
Pinto urged people to put themselves in the shoes of ordinary Manipuri women, “who get mocked, frisked, threatened, beaten-up, tortured, molested, raped and even killed under the protection of the act”.
Sharma asked the people to step out of their comfort zones and go to Manipur to see what it was like to live that life. She also requested Deol to visit the state.
Designer Nitesh Mohanty also organised an art exhibition of postcards for Sharmila, an initiative taken by artists across the country depicting her 12-year struggle and atrocities. A bunch of 25 evocative postcards was presented to the author to be given to Sharmila in Imphal.
Sharmila has attracted worldwide support for her non-violent movement against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. She has been on a fast-unto-death agitation for more than 12 years.