Posts Tagged ‘manipur’

“There was no other means to stop further violations by the armed forces against innocent people. I thought that peace rally and inquiry commissions would be meaningless. Unless I do something to change the situation.” Sharmila.

In October 2000, Sharmila had volunteered as an intern for the “Independent People’s Inquiry Commission” led by Justice H.Suresh arranged by Human Rights Alert, legal fraternity, human right’s organizations and NGO’s. She acted as a translator for the advocates in the inquiry commission. She translated the gang rape case of Mercy M.Kabui for Advocate Preeti Verma. “I sustained pain in my private parts. When I urinated, I checked my private parts and the pain coming from there. I found blood in my private parts.”

Sharmila was emotionally troubled after hearing Mercy’s personal account of being raped in the sanctuary of her own home, by two CRPF personnel’s in front of her father-in-law while her husband was being held by other two CRPF personnel outside the house.

On 2nd November 2000, Sharmila was in Malom preparing for a peace rally when she was shocked to receive the news of 10 innocent people being gunned down by Assam Rifles personnel. Among the ten innocent victims the eldest was a 6o years old woman Leisangbam Ibetomi and youngest 17 year old Sinam Chandramani, a National Child Bravery Award winner (1988). After receiving the news she wanted to go and meet the IMA’s but couldn’t because there was a bandh. In the solitude of her home she realized that hosting peace rallies was not going to solve any problems, she needed to take a drastic action.

Since an early age Sharmila ritualistically fasted on Thursday, on this occasion she continued her fast till 4th November (Saturday) 2000. She decided on 4th November 2000 that she would start a non-violent peaceful hunger strike to repeal AFSPA. Her last meal in past 10 years was with two friends, they visited a bakery for some sweets. Sharmila then took her mother’s permission “to do something more for the people of Manipur”, her mother being a simpleton blessed her “it’s good and you will succeed in all you do.”

On 5th November 2000 Sharmila started her hunger strike from the Malom site. She was only 28 years old. Since then Sharmila has not consumed a single drop of water or food. Sharmila’s only demand is to repeal Armed Forces Special Power Act 1958 (AFSPA).

Support Irom Sharmila Chanu, sign the online petition to repeal AFSPA

Irom Sharmila - childhood photograph

Irom Sharmila - childhood photograph

“Sharmila has had milk from many mothers she is now returning their dues by fighting for their rights.” Singhjit (Sharmila’s brother).

Irom Sharmila Chanu (born 14th March 1972), is the ninth child of Late Irom Nanda Singh and Irom Sakhi Devi. Her father was a grade 4 veterinary worker and her mother ran a provisional store. After nine children Sakhi Devi was dry, when Sharmila would be hungry and wail for milk, Singhjit, her elder brother would take her to nearby nursing mothers. In lieu of the milk Singhjit would do odd jobs in their houses.

As Sharmila grew up her behavior was not like an ordinary girl, she did not like dressing up, she did not wear any jewelery neither did she use any cosmetics. She sought spiritual answers and religiously read the Bhagwad Gita. She practiced yoga and started learning nature cure and stenography. Sharmila was a quiet, solitary girl with few selected friends. She studied till Grade 12 but never appeared for her exam as she felt she was equipped with the knowledge of reading and writing.

Irom Sharmila Chanu with her siblings - childhood photograph

Irom Sharmila Chanu with her siblings - childhood photograph

After her father’s demise she was filled with grief and this led her to work for social causes. An independent spirit she would ride her bi-cycle to take part in different development workshops. Sharmila wrote articles for Huyien Lanpao, a local vernacular newspaper, she also wrote poems in Manipuri Metie dialect. Her articles were mostly poetic jottings, her inner thoughts. She constantly worried about the increasing violence in Manipur especially the atrocities against women. This led her to volunteer for human rights “Independent People Inquiry Commission” led by Justice Suresh in October 2000, least did she know this would be a turning point in her life.

Support Irom Sharmila Chanu, sign the online petition to repeal AFSPA

On 2nd September 2010, I impatiently waited outside the guarded corridor of JN Hospital security ward, Imphal, Manipur while the security guards informed Irom Sharmila Chanu about her visitor.

Being a feng shui consultant by profession I am intrigued by people’s lives, in other words their natal charts. In July 2010, I read the news clipping about Irom Sharmila Chanu, what caught my attention was that Sharmila (38yrs) was an individual social activist on a hunger strike for last 10 years, she was kept in solitary confinement, she was forcefully nasal fed by the government and her only demand was to repeal AFSPA.  I was curious, on the spur I started research on Sharmila this led me to her brother, Singhjit, an extremely helpful man, over few telephonic conversations he told me about Sharmila’s life story. In August 2010 I wrote a bazi analysis of her natal chart and posted it on my website. Somehow I was not happy, I wanted to do more, there was a voice inside me urging me to go and meet her, to know her.

The security guard showed me to Sharmila’s room, I was greeted with a weak smile from a frail woman, perched on her bed, covered in a green shawl, a tube shoved in her nostril hanging in front of her dry cracked lips, eyes sparkling with hope, life and passion.  Through my research I knew her bones were brittle and her vital organs had shrivelled, I did not expect her to speak much, I was wrong. Sharmila is no ordinary lady she is born of a different mettle.

Irom Sharmila Chanu in JN hospital, Imphal, Manipur taken on 2nd September 2010