Come clean on act, girl on fast tells Ibobi

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By OUR CORRESPONDENT in Imphal
  • Published 5.02.04
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Imphal, Feb. 5: Rights activist Irom Sharmila today demanded a clear-cut reply from the chief minister to her demand for scrapping the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

Talking to the media from her hospital bed this afternoon, Sharmila said instead of trying to feed her forcibly, the government should come clean on whether it wants to lift the law or not.

Sharmila began her hungerstrike immediately after the killing of 10 civilians, including women, by the Assam Rifles at Malom, near Imphal airport, on November 2, 2000. She alleged that the security forces were violating human rights, taking advantage of the act.

Sharmila has been confined since then at Sajiwa Jail and the security ward of Imphal’s Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital. “If the government says it would not scrap the act, then I will have to take my own decision. I don’t want to live the way I am living right now,” she said.

“Though the government is spending public money to keep me alive, it does not care about the suffering the people are going through because of the act.”

A few months ago, Sharmila rejected chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh’s offer of the post of chairperson of the proposed Manipur State Women Commission if she agreed to call off her fast.

“I do not seek fame. Sometimes people misunderstand the motive behind my hungerstrike. My struggle is for human rights. I may die but will not relent till my demand is fulfilled.”

Sharmila slammed the state political leaders as spineless, corrupt and out to exploit the people for their selfish motives. The chief minister was sincere, but lacked “guts,” she added.

“Ibobi Singh is willing to lift the act from Manipur, but cannot do so because he is afraid of New Delhi. I also know that the Centre would not do anything that would support the militants,” she said, meaning Delhi would never allow the government to scrap the act.

Sharmila also rejected Ibobi Singh’s suggestion that the act be lifted in phases.