Today, Irom Sharmila of Manipur would enter the 10th year of her epic fast protesting the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
On November 2, 2001 a bomb exploded near the 8th Assam Rifles Camp, near Malom, Manipur, India. In what was regarded as a retaliation, the Assam rifles personnel shot down 10 innocent people at the Malom bus stand, people whom had no connection with insurgents, young and old, men and women alike. Today a park, ‘Ten Innocents Park’ stands at that place.
What made the army men go on their killing spree is debatable, but it is clear that the mindless killing was a manifestation of the draconian AFSPA that was in force with almost the entire state of Manipur declared a ‘disturbed area’. Two days later, on November 4, 2001, Irom Sharmila declared a peaceful protest against the AFSPA, she went on a fast unto its repeal. To date, Irom Sharmila continues her epic fast. Of late, the government has indicated that it is open to revisit the AFSPA. But neither is the government showing any urgency in the matter, nor the issue has got the national attention that it deserves.
Hers is a story that we should all know, whether we agree with the AFSPA or not. Find here a poignant account of her tale by Shoma Chaudhury in Tehelka:
Also read a compelling argument for a ‘modest’ change in AFSPA by Siddarth Varadarajan in the columns of The Hindu: