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Total Repeal Of AFSPA From Manipur Would Be… Perfect Gift For Sharmila On Ningol Chakkouba

IMPHAL, Nov 5: Even as various events were organized today to mark a decade of hunger strike by Irom Chanu Sharmila, Chairperson of Manipur state Commission for Women, Dr Laishram Ibetombi Devi has opined that lifting the controversial Armed Forces’ Special Powers Act 1958 would be the perfect gift to the womenfolk of Manipur on the auspicious occasion of Ningol Chakkouba festival.

Sharmila has been on a fast since November 5, 2000 in the aftermath of the Assam Rifles mowing down 10 civilians at Malom. Her main demand is scrapping of AFSPA 1958 under which security forces are immune to legal punitive action.

In an exclusive chat with The Sangai Express Dr Ibetombi asserted that Sharmila’s non-violent struggle is justifiable for she is upholding protection of fundamental human rights and in protest against all forms of atrocities against innocent civilians.

Pointing out that protest in a peaceful and democratic manner as advocated by Mahatma Gandhi is being lauded throughout the world, the Chairperson expressed that Sharmila’s endeavor needs to be recognized for she is reminding all concerned that every human being has the right to life and a secure livelihood.

Construing that lifting AFSPA 1958 from certain pockets of Imphal and Greater Imphal areas by the State Government is under the concept that peaceful movement undertaken by Sharmila in the last 10 year period deserved to be acknowledged, Dr Ibetombi wondered why the Govt wants the Act to continue, which had already drawn widespread condemnation.

Further noting that Sharmila’s struggle has generated support from various international human rights groups, the Commission chief also suggested that removal of the Act in its entirety should be tested on a trial basis as prolonged imposition of the same under the ‘˜disturbed area’ tag has not been able to check the increasing violence in the State.

Referring to conferment of Rabindranath Tagore Peace  Prize and the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights (South Korea) to Sharmila, who has gained status as an iconic figure, Dr Ibetombi posed if these revered awards would be presented to the Iron Lady of Manipur her protest merits due recognition from both the State and Central authorities.

Sharmila’s struggle assumed even more significance in the national context when the then Chairperson of National Commission for Women Poornima Advani met her (Sharmila) about two years back, Dr Ibetombi observed and informed that current Chairperson of the Commission Dr Girija Vyas, who is a Member of Parliament from Rajasthan is scheduled to visit Manipur to meet Sharmila in the latter part of this year.

Confiding that her predecessor Dr Ch Jamini had also met Sharmila on a few occasion and both shared plight of the fairer sex, Dr Ibetombi expressed sadly that while womenfolk of the State would be celebrating Ningol Chakkouba festival Sharmila would be in solitude for the cause of human kind.

Hoping that the Government would understand sentiment of the womenfolk and do the needful to honor Sharmila’s campaign against human rights abuse the Chairperson said removing all obstacles to enable the hunger striker bite a morsel on Ningol Chakkouba day would be the most cherished gift for the Manipuri womenfolk.

She also recounted that when a national level seminar for Chairpersons and Secretaries of State Women Commissions was held at Vigyan Bhavan (New Delhi) on July 5 and 6 earlier this year, representatives of the State panel presented a detailed account on the need for empowerment of State Women Commissions, sufficient fund provision and conferring mediatory prerogative to the panel executives in addition to highlighting problems of child/women trafficking and plight of a single woman.

*Reported by Sapam Aruna

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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