New Delhi: When itcomes to fasts and dharnas, popularity clearly matters. Baba Ramdev and Anna Hazare hog the public limelight and the Centre’s attention but a woman who has been on a fast in Manipur against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act has been ignored for ten years now.
The high profile fasts of activists in Delhi and the silent 10-year long fast of Irom Sharmila – Hazare and Ramdev are followed by TV cameras, their voiceheard all overthe country butIrom Sharmila fasts unnoticed by the national media, alone and ignored.
The Iron Lady of Manipur as she is often called has beenon a fast for the last ten years protesting against the AFSPA that is in place in parts of Manipur and the north east and gives the Army and the paramilitary forces the power to shoot or arrest on mere suspicion. The Indian state has kept her alive on a cocktail of vitamins and nutrients. She is force-fed twice a day through her nose.
“I can’t tolerate the atrocities on my contemporaries, on my people. This is God’s will. I will carry on. It’s intolerable,” said Irom Sharmila Chanu.
Anna Hazare and Ramdev are known across India but perhaps the true satyagrahi is Irom Sharmila Chanu who for ten years hasn’t eaten anything – not a morsel of food, not a drop of water.
Ramdev and Hazare are received at airports, invited to joint panels with government, she is treated like a criminal, perhaps because she’s in Manipur and ignored by the media.
“My question is why can’t they consider the northeast states like the rest of the country?” said Sharmila.