Imphal, Sept. 11: Irom Sharmila’s supporters renewed the call for repeal of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act today by observing the day as Black Day. It was on September 11, 1958, that the Parliament had passed the act.
Sharmila Kanba Lup (Save Sharmila Campaign), a rights group supporting the crusader’s struggle for repeal of the act, observed the day in its office at Porompat in Imphal East near the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences, where Sharmila has been detained for 12 years now. There was a small gathering in the office.
“Today is a black day because a black law was born today. We renewed our pledge to fight against the act,” Sharmila Kanba Lup co-convenor S. Momon Leima said.
The day, however, passed off peacefully.
The army act was first enforced in the hills of Manipur to contain Naga militancy but in 1980, the entire state was brought under its purview as militancy spread.
People soon started raising their voices against the act after security forces allegedly started committing human rights violations in the name of counter-insurgency operations.
The Extra-Judicial Execution Victim Families Association, Manipur, and Human Rights Alert, Manipur, in a petition filed to the Supreme Court last year, listed 1,528 cases of alleged fake encounter killings in the state between 1978 and 2012. A petition filed by former medical director Th. Suresh, seeking repeal of the act is pending in Supreme Court.
The anti-AFSPA movement gained momentum after Sharmila began her fast-unto-death in protest against the act in November 2000 after Assam Rifles troops killed 10 civilians at a bus stand in Malom near Tulihal airport in Imphal West district.
The state government withdrew the act from the Imphal municipal area in August 2004 following a public uprising triggered by the alleged rape and murder of Thangjam Manorama in Imphal East by the Assam Rifles.
“Both the Centre and state government are not listening to the people’s voice. We will fight till the act is repealed. If anything happens to Sharmila, both the state government and the Centre will be held responsible,” Leima said.
Slamming the Centre for prolonged imposition of the act and inaction on cases of rights abuse by security forces, Sharmila’s brother Irom Singhajit demanded that the act should be repealed and basic human rights of all citizens respected. Singhajit is a member of Just Peace Foundation, which is also supporting Sharmila’s cause.
To mark the day, the Sharmila Kanba Lup released an audio cassette, Emagidamak (For the mother), in which Manipuri singer Aphao lent his voice to the anti-army act campaign by singing two tracks.