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10 Years And Still Fasting: Manipur 'Iron Lady' Irom Sharmila Expresses Solidarity With Anna

PTI 23 Aug 2011, 20:29:54 IST
PTI

Guwahati, August 23: Manipur's 'iron lady' Irom Sharmila Chanu, whose case many Anna Hazare critics have been referring to, on Tuesday expressed her solidarity with the Gandhian's anti-corruption movement.

Sharmila, who has been on a fast, for over ten years, demanding the revocation of the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, wrote a letter to Anna extending her support.

Many Anna Hazare critics have been invoking Sharmila's case to argue that the government was indifferent to the latter's cause but capitulating to the "blackmailing tactics" of the former. Some critics of the anti-corruption movement have also questioned the conscience of Anna's middle class supporters for being apathetic to Sharmila's indefinite fast.

Sharmila, the anti-AFSPA campaigner, is currently under judicial custody. She has been lodged at the security ward of Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital in Imphal where she is being forced-fed through her nose. She launched her crusade against AFSPA after Assam Rifles personnel killed ten civilians at Malom village near Imphal airport on November 2, 2000. Sharmila went on an indefinite fast three days later, demanding the repeal of the military act that gives unbridled powers to the armed forces and even to shoot people on mere suspicion.

Sharmila's support for the anti-corruption movement, came after the Team Anna on last Saturday invited her to join the movement for a strong Jan Lok Pal Bill. Babloo Loitongbam, human rights activist and close associate of Sharmila, told TOI on Tuesday that she wrote the letter while being in judicial custody after receiving Anna's invitation.

Quoting her letter, Babloo said that she would not be able to attend Anna's fast as she was in the judicial custody. But she has expressed her solidarity with Anna's crusade against corruption, he added.

In her letter, Sharmila said that corruption was wide spread in Manipur and it was the root cause of all the problems. She also invited Anna to visit Manipur.

Babloo said the Just Peace Foundation, a trust formed for the cause of Sharmila's unrelenting struggle against AFSPA, had discussed the team Anna's invitation and Sharmila's reply. A member of the Just Peace Foundation was likely to attend Anna's movement at Ramlila ground in Delhi, he said.

Manipuris so far, have not shown the same level of support as they have for Sharmila's fight against the AFSPA.