A 38 year-old woman refuses to eat and continues so indomitably so to complete her one decade, as indefinite hunger warrior on Tuesday 3, 2010. Ms. Irom Sharmila Chanu is under arrest without trial past ten years on charges of attempt of suicide but for Irom Sharmila it is an a non-violence protest against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) and her demand is to repeal this act which has enormous immunity laid in.She commenced her hunger strike right from November 2000. Irom Sharmila was deeply hurt after the Malom massacre.
Malom, a town in the Imphal Valley of Manipur witnessed an horrified incident on November 1, 2000, when ten innocent people were fatally killed while they were waiting for a bus, at the bus stand. It was an act of Assam Rifles, one of the Indian Paramilitary force. This has been reported that such killing was endless and the media exposed such act of cruelty which included the dead bodies of a 62-year old woman, Leisangbam Ibetomi, and 18-year old Sinam Chandramani, a 1988 National Child Bravery Award winner. Such events were nothing in rarity but were in multiples, scarring and people becoming panic. This killing was done under special powers given to Armed Forces known as Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 AFSPA.
What is AFSPA?
On a search in the Wikipedia, it says,” The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), was passed on September 11, 1958 by the Parliament of India. It conferred special powers upon armed forces in what the language of the act calls “disturbed the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagalal-and and Tripura. It was later extended to Jammu and Kashmir as the The Armed Forces(Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 in July 1990”
“AFSPA” has enormous immunity vested and the origin dates back to colonial government during the Second World War. The further studies reveals,” AFSPA provides special powers to arrest, detain and even kill civilians on suspicion. The power to
search and destroy properties on mere suspicion is granted to the Armed Forces of the Union in the ‘disturbed areas’ of the North East (and subsequently in Kashmir). Wherever AFSPA is in operation, enforced ‘disappearances’, extra-judicial killings, tortures, rapes and arbitrary detentions have been
The studies further say,” Even though when the Union Home Minster introduced the law in the Parliament in 1958 assured that the Act will be only a temporary measure, but it has dragged on for more than 52 years now!”
“The people of Manipur have done whatever is humanly possible to register their protests against AFSPA — naked protest by mothers, self immolation by student leaders, mass demonstrations, petition to the Supreme Court, complaints to the United Nations etc. But Government of Indian remains completely indifferent on issues of right to life and dignity”says the report.
Irom Sharmila’s pleas are meaningful and worth pondering but unfortunately ignored despite her ten years ordeal. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has been in force in the seven sister states since the regions are proclaimed as “disturbed”. But the Act has enormous immunity only to be aimed at the miscreants who actually make the state unstable, politically and economically. But incident like that Malom massacre and Thangjam Manorama, a suspected insurgent, series of rapes, tortures, killings have seen the inexorable provocations. This is what precisely happening in Kashmir valley. The root of issue is, when an act enjoys enormous immunity it has also its own unchecked recklessness. In all such cases the innocents are targeted and they are languishing in prisons with a prejudiced view and such acts cause anger and disturb the public’s mind resulting in large scale chaos and casualties.
We have to see whether Irom Sharmila Chanu is fighting for a patriotic cause or the AFSPA is safeguarding the interest of the Nation.