Better known as the Iron Lady of Manipur,Irom Sharmila, who has been on ‘fast-unto-death’ stir since last 12 years, against the controversial AFSPA(Armed Forces Special Power Act) which is imposed on the state of Manipur , has refused to plead guilty on charges framed by New Delhi court ! Sharmila claimed she was not committing suicide and rather protesting non-violently which is a valid political protest !
Sharmila launched her fast unto death in 2000 after 10 civilians were killed by Assam Rifles personnel near Imphal airport. At present, she is lodged in a jail and is being fed through her nose at a hospital in Imphal. She was charged under Section 309 when she brought her fast and protest against the AFSPA to Delhi six years ago and since then has been under police custody.
Without getting into the debate of whether disturbed states should continue to be administered by the Armed Forces, there are questions. Isn’t a fast,a peaceful and non-violent medium of protest in a democracy ? Why a fast-unto-death be compared to crime of attempting suicide under Section 309 of Indian Penal Code? Does this not show the repeated incompetency of the state and central governments who have failed to bring normalcy in disturbed states of India since several decades now ? How long will it take for the disturbed states to get out of the tangles of ‘Military Raj’ ?