| Irom Sharmila |
Imphal, Sept. 18: Human rights crusader Irom Sharmila today expressed her desire to distribute cash rewards conferred on her to victims of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.
“I wish to distribute the cash awards given to me to the worst victims of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and human rights violations, particularly children and widows,” she told reporters during her routine appearance in an Imphal court today.
Sharmila had received Rs 12 lakh from Gwangju Prize For Human Rights of South Korea in May 2007 in recognition of her struggle for “peace, democracy and human rights.” Her elder brother Irom Sinhajit received the award on her behalf.
In September 2010, she got the Tagore Peace Prize from New Delhi-based business school — Indian Institute of Policy and Management. The award carried a cash prize of Rs 51 lakh. M.K. Chaudhuri, the founder director of the institute, came to Imphal and handed over the cheque personally to Sharmila.
A Kerala-based trust had conferred on Sharmila the Kovilan Smaraka Activists India National Award, carried a cash prize of Rs 50,000, in October last year.
This time, however, Sharmila declined the award, saying that her struggle was not for awards and fame but for repeal of the army act.
To show her gratitude, however, she sent Singhajit to the award function in Calcutta to convey to the organisers her wish of not receiving the award.
Sharmila, known as the Iron Lady, said the cash awards given to her were managed by the Just Peace Foundation, an Imphal-based rights group which supports her struggle. Singhajit is its trustee member.
“I want to sit down with the foundation’s trustee members regarding management of the money. I want them to clarify how much has been spent on campaigns against the armed forces act and how much is left,” she said.
Sharmila wants to distribute the money to victims of human rights abuse as part of her effort to create awareness about her struggle.
“I don’t want honours. What I want is everybody’s physical contribution to my struggle. I want everybody to spend time with me and undergo a one-day fast with me when I am freed for a day (at the end of her jail term and before re-arrest).”
Sharmila began her hunger strike in November 2000 against the act after Assam Rifles troops shot dead 10 civilians at Malom near Tulihal airport in Imphal. She has been charged with attempt to suicide. She is arrested for a year, freed at the end of the year-long sentence and re-arrested after which she continues her fast.
Sharmila also denounced the killing of nine migrant workers in a grenade attack in a labourers’ shed in Imphal by suspected militants on Friday night as “inhuman”.
She said such merciless killings would bring bad name to the state and Manipuri society.
The Coordination Committee of six militant groups, in short CorCom, denied any hand in the attack.