She is Hungry for Justice-Peace-Democracy
During the last few decades, the people of North Eastern states and J&K have witnessed severe repression with the implementation of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (1958). Under this law, the security forces have:
- The power to arrest and enter property without warrant.
- The power to shoot, arrest and kill at the mere hint of suspicious activity, even without the lives of members of the security force being at imminent risk.
- Immunity against legal action
The implementation of this law has led to brutal rapes, arbitrary detentions, “disappearances”, killings and loot. This law is being actively used by security forces to terrorize and subordinate local communities in the name of counter-insurgency. The implementation of this draconian law AFSPA has challenged not only the democratic norms of Manipur, but also of the entire freedom loving people in India for allowing such blatant repression to take place.
Protesting against AFSPA, Irom Sharmila Chanu, the young poet from Manipur has been on an indefinite hunger fast for the last ten years. On 2 November 2010, Manipur poet and activist, completed her 10th year of her hunger strike demanding the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
According to the government appointed Justice Jeevan Reddy Commission ‘the act has become a symbol of oppression, an object of hate and an instrument of discrimination and high-handedness’. The United Nations Committee on Racial Discrimination has urged the Indian government to repeal the law.
The origins of AFSPA goes back to the days of British Raj and was promulgated in 1942 against the backdrop of the Quit India movement launched by the Indian National Congress. Ironically, even after independence, the so called World’s largest democracy has shamelessly continued with the dreaded legislation and used it freely against suppressing the aspiration of the people of J&K and the north-east.
To the people of Manipur, AFSPA symbolizes all the worst features of a system that not only oppresses them under the living nightmare of a (de facto) military occupation but also having to live under Indian capitalism that has neither brought them decent jobs or provided them with basic necessities. The rape, torture & cold blooded murder of Thangjam Manorama by the security personnel in 2004 provoked more protests with traditional elderly women of Manipur disrobing in public with slogan – Indian Army Rape Us, Indian Army take our flesh etc in front of the notorious Assam Rifles Headquarters.
On 2 November, 2000 Irom Sharmila Chanu entered on a hunger strike after Indian Army massacred ten civilians in Malom, Manipur. On 6 November, 2000 she was arrested by the police and charged with attempt to commit suicide under section 307 of the Indian Penal Code. Her health deteriorated gradually and she did not accept even a single drop of water.
We appeal to all democratic and working class forces to extend full support to the struggle of Sharmila Irom and the people oppressed by AFSPA. Only a socialist confederation of the sub-continent of India, Pakistan, Bangaladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka with full autonomy to all the national minorities in these countries can attempt to solve the crucial national question which is dogging the lives of the people of these countries.
Jagadish G Chandra
New Socialist Alternative