On Monday, November 5, Irom Sharmila completed 12 years of her hunger fast that she went on in protest against the draconian law known as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). Her demand is simple — repeal AFSPA, a law that provides impunity to armed forces from all human rights violations.
Sharmila went on a hunger fast in the year 2000 at the age of 29, when a group of soldiers from the Assam Rifles shot dead 10 civilians standing at a bus-stop, and since then she has refused to eat, drink or even brush her teeth.
And how did the State respond to her peaceful protest? They charged her of a crime; the crime of trying to commit suicide. Ever since, she has been repeatedly arrested, detained and is force-fed by tubes that are inserted into her nose twice a day.
Twelve years have passed, and nothing has changed: Sharmila continues to protest against AFSPA, and human rights violations by the armed forces continue to take place.
Quoting Sanjoy Hazarika, Chair for the North-East Studies at Jamia, The Independent writes:
For all Sharmila’s efforts, campaigners say they have little optimism that the government will respond to an issue about which the Indian public and the world is largely unaware of. “There has not been any change,” said Sanjoy Hazarika, an expert on India’s north-east who teaches at Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia university. “The cabinet has not even considered a proposal on this issue from the home ministry that was sent two years ago.”
AFSPA and the State’s treatment of Irom Sharmila is a mark of shame for the so-called largest democracy in the world.