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Sharmila rejects AAP offer

- Rights activist claims call to contest polls

Imphal, Feb. 14: Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party is persuading human rights crusader Irom Sharmila to become its candidate from Manipur for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

The marathon hunger striker, however, rejected the party’s offer immediately.

“One Aam Aadmi Party leader named Prashant Bhushan spoke to me over the phone this morning. He requested me to be a candidate for his party in the Lok Sabha elections. I turned down the offer,” Sharmila told reporters, while coming to an Imphal court for a routine appearance today.

Sharmila, 42, added that Bhusan urged her to reconsider the offer.

“I replied that I had thought over the matter a hundred times and the answer is still no,” she said.

Sharmila spoke to the leader for nearly half-an-hour. Their conversation was disrupted three to four times because of bad network, sources said.

However, Sharmila did not elaborate how the AAP leader contacted her and on whose cell phone she received the call, since she cannot keep a cellphone in custody.

Manipur has an AAP unit, which is looking for a suitable candidate, but the local leaders denied having any knowledge of the offer to Sharmila.

“I will never contest any election. I am a simple citizen following a non-violent means of struggle to get the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act repealed. In India, politics has been converted into a business venture. Hence, there is chaos everywhere (in the country),” she said.

Sharmila began her fast in November 2000, demanding repeal of the army act.

Her fast was triggered by the killing of 10 civilians at Malom, near Tulihal airport in Imphal, in indiscriminate firing by troops of the Assam Rifles in retaliation to a militant attack on November 2, 2000.

Charged with attempted suicide, Sharmila was released after a year, only to be re-arrested after she refused to call off the fast. She is surviving on forced nasal feeding.

Sharmila said the AAP asked her to accept the offer, pointing out that if she were in Parliament her voice would be heard directly.

“My struggle is different from active politics or electoral politics. I am still confident that one day my voice will be heard by the authorities and the black law will be repealed,” she said.