Top 10 Points to Know About Irom Sharmila Chanu And Her Fast Unto Death


By: W Rorrkychand Singh


Iron lady Irom Sharmila being presenting Signature Peace Awards by the team of Signature Sarva Gunah Sampanna Awards Selection Committee on Monday at JNIMS before she leaves for CJM Imphal east. 2010-12-28 | by : IFP Photo
Iron lady Irom Sharmila being presenting Signature Peace Awards by the team of Signature Sarva Gunah Sampanna Awards Selection Committee on Monday at JNIMS before she leaves for CJM Imphal east. 2010-12-28 | by : IFP Photo

“Wake up brothers and sisters
The savior of the nation
We have come out all the way
Knowing we all will die
Why the fear is
So shaky in the heart?

I am bidding farewell
Yet longing for life
Though birth is followed by death
So fond of to accomplice
My desired mission”,

read a poem by Irom Sharmila Chanu, who is on a fast unto-death against the imposition of Armed Forces Special Forces-1958 (AFSPA) in the North-Eastern states of India.

However, her decade long demand to repeal the controversial law that empowers the armed  forces personals to shoot anyone at mere suspicious (under Section 4(a) of AFSPA-1958) is yet to be heard by the Central lawmakers.

The 40-year-old living legend is currently in judicial custody at the state run Jawaharlal Nehru Medical Hospital in Imphal, the capital of Manipur.

Here are top 10 points to know about Sharmila and her fast unto death:

  1. Launched her agitation:- in the wake of Malom Massacre(2000), which claimed the lives of 10 civilians, she launched her fast unto death on Nov. 4, 2000 demanding to revoke AFSPA-1958 from the Manipur soil.

  2. Arrest/remand:- for the first time, she was arrested on the third day of her fast under section 309 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) charged with “attempt to commit suicide. Since then she has been remanded in the judicial custody (state authority made her appear before the court for every 15 days).

  3. Force Feeding:- in order to keep her alive and to refrain from possible aftermath of her demise the state government force feed her twice a daily (a cocktail of vitamins and nutrients) through her nose (nasogastric intubations).

  4. Protest in Delhi:- in a bid to draw the attention of Central government, Sharmila shifted her fasting venue from JN Hospital to national capital, New Delhi in October 4, 2006. However, a frustrated Sharmila returned to Manipur, as the Central government leaders lend no ears to her demand.

  5. Imphal Free From AFSPA:- Chief Minister, O Ibobi Singh announced to lift AFSPA-1958 from seven assembly constituencies in greater Imphal area on 11 August, 2004. Minutes after the announcement, Special Secretary (Home) Government of Manipur, S Dinokumar Singh issued a notification lifting the act from the areas.

  6. Jeevan Reddy Committee:- A 147 pages of report on AFSPA-1958 by Justice BP Jeevan Reddy Committee recommended that “”The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, should be repealed,” “The Act is too sketchy, too bald and quite inadequate in several particulars.”

  7. International attention:- Nominated to Nobel Prize, she was nominated to nobel prize by the North-East Network, a Guwahati-based women organization. Latter she was awarded with, Gwangju Prize for Human Rights, for her promotion and advocacy of Peace, Democracy and Human Rights in the region.

  8. Decade Long fast:- on November 4, 2010, Sharmila’s agitation entered a decade, however, her demands are still to be heard by the lawmakers.

  9. Letter To Anna Hazare:- In response to an invitation sent by anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare which seeked Sharmila’s support and participation in the nationwide campaign against corruption, she wrote back, “My humble suggestion is if you feel seriously; please try to reach the concerned legislators (read authorities) to let me get free, like yours, to join your amazing crusade to root out corruption – which is the root of all evils. Or you can come to Manipur, the most corruption affected region in the world,” reads the letter dated 23, August 2011.

  10. Met her mother:- after 11 years the iron lady of Manipur met her mother on May 31, 2012 in J Hospital where she has been kept for more than a decade.


A Profile of Irom Chanu Sharmila

Name: Irom Chanu Sharmila (“Iron Lady Of Manipur”)

DOB: March 14, 1972

Birthplace: Kongpal, Imphal, Manipur, India

Designation: Civil rights activist

Agitation style: Non-violent

Inception: Nov. 2, 2000

Cause: The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (1958)

Demand: Repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (1958)

Acclamation and recognitions:

  • Nominated to Nobel Peace Prize by the North East Network in 2005
  • Recipient of “Gwangju Prize for Human Rights” in 2007
  • “Rabindranath Tagore Peace Prize” in 2010
  • “Sarva Gunah Sampannah Award for Peace and Harmony” in 2010
  • “Adivasi Ratna Award” in 2011

Interest: Poetry.

Suggested Material:

  • “Burning Bright: Irom Sharmila and the Struggle for Peace in Manipur” by Deepti Priya Mehrotra and published by Penguin Books India.
  • A short documentary, “My Body My Weapon”, by Kavita Joshi, released in 2007.
  • A mono-play titled “Le Mashale” (“Take the torch”) by Pune-based theatre artiste Ojas S.


  • Save Sharmila Campaign, jointly launched by network of various civil societies in India.
  • Just Peace Foundation, formed to promote the cause of Irom Chanu Sharmila.

* The story  is sent by W Rorrkychand Singh-Freelance Journalist,Kumbi Mayai Leikai, Kumbi, PO- Moirang,PS- Kumbi, Dist- Bishnipur,Manipur. He can be reached at rorrky{at}gmail{dot}com


  1. Complete tosh rehashed from the internet by someone who doesn’t know her but may claim all sorts. The first thing Manipuris need to stop censoring is that Irom Sharmila Chanu is engaged to a British Citizen, their courtship parallels that of Suu Kyi and Michael Arris across the border ie mainly by letters. The attacks on Suu Kyi were far cruder and in public the attacks on Sharmila remain privately communicated to her. Chief among our attackers is the Loitongbam family who gained most from the non-sequitur point 5. In a public answer to a Trinamool Congress MLA Ibobi Singh first claimed that he had lifted AF(SP)A from Imphal City (65% of the population of Manipur) while negotiating the end of Sharmila’s satyagraha with her brother Irom Singhjit. When it was pointed out Singhjit works for the local police not Sharmila and Sharmila had sought the complete lifting of AF(SP)A from all of Manipur he changed his statement only to he had negotiated with someone purporting to be Irom Singhjit. It would be surreal anywhere other than Manipur. The analysis though is always missed by those who parrot only content. There is a political solution and Manipuris alone get to decide. Usually your police and government psycophants say how sad we are so few Delhi bullies us. If only we had 100 MPs in the Lok Sabha. Manipuris have 60 MLAs in the State Assembly. You need only 31 to denotify disturbed area status from all of Manipur if that is what you want. What is it you people want. Even if it is a fair share in the corruption how is that coming along.

    The Calcutta Herald was burnt and banned by the local police using several of its many front organizations. Why will Manipuris not even look at the truth. Most organizations in Manipur are complete shams. It was a significant move for the police working with the Manipuri State Government to censor the mainland press. It was done simply enough by money. The Herald was losing 8000 copies per day plus advertising. It took them two weeks to come to the table and pay up. The foreign press are easier to manage. Manipur is a shit hole nobody wants to come here. If they have to write something they’d rather not offend the ruling familes otherwise no one will talk to them. People who say Manipur is beautiful are looking out from their windows in Bangalore. The gentlemen of the foreign press are given tours around government compounds or hold up in the Imphal Classic and get the story pre-written for them. Recent attacks on Sharmila by the Loitongbams are that she decided to marry because she is weak willed and secondly that she is avaricious having been seduced by tales of money I do not have. You learn a lot more about the Loitongbams than Sharmila in their statements. Occasionally they revert to praise when they globetrot the world on first class travel and five star hotels but they never release expenses or audit any of the NGOs they run.

    She remains isolated. After years of claiming that no one is allowed to see her so the State is not depriving her of her article 16 rights arbitrarily? A show was made of her meeting with her mother approved end of May but she had already seen her on her annual release in March. We have never been allowed by decree of the Loitongbam family. From the unilateral ban obtained by the DG Police Prisons in 2005 a close ally of the Loitongbam family all applications were filtered through them and Singhjit.

    In 2010 when I visited with the Loitongbams claming to be our best friends offering to provide me with tours and at the same time spreading a ludicrous story to Sharmila that I am an international sex spy, a favourite of the family because they won’t let it go no matter how paranoid it makes them sound, they sabotaged our meeting thinking that it would be our first. But they don’t think so good, fulbright scholarship notwithstanding. Why did the americans pay to educate a young Manipuri from a powerful local family?

    The Sharmila Kanba Lup whose members are also accused of throwing hand grenades for 5-10 K rupees a toss (depending on their negotiating skills) were used as the front then. They then put forward another Loitongbam tale that Sharmila is a virgin Goddess and can never marry because marriage places a taint upon woman. After pointing out the Meira Paibis were all married often grannies their spokesperson broke into fishwife abuse which made even the police protection officer blush. I know I had some police protecting some attacking they sort of took turns. Technically and illicitly the Police bailed Sharmila to the custody of the Kanba Lup their front organization to protect her from Singhjit whom they claimed might at the time have been planning an honor killing of Sharmila. They did not have the authority to do that but they have guns. And there are no lawyers of worth in Manipur. Singhjit later followed up on police threats of harrassment on any names of young women who had helped us. Singhjit appears to like intimidating younger women. There is no logic to the thinking of goons. They do not plan. It’s your country. When will you tire of them.

    The JPF clearly does not work for Sharmila. A single Meitei woman has little power in Manipur. They took control of her prize money and regularly send what they term trustees to harass her and make sure no one independent talks to her. They have demanded that she attack me which she has declined to do. They have demanded that she not affect anyone in Manipur with her writing which she has agreed. Though it would not be reported in Manipur if she did speak out so that’s overkill. R K Anand now heads the JPF and also works for the Ibobi Singh regime as a turncoat MLA. No one comments on that as one of the ten things to know. As for internet campaigns they flower and die within a few months. People have moved on in the Internet. The Save Sharmila Campaign is one example if you check you will find they have changed their name again. They might make another announcement and give a list of their members but they will do nothing useful. If people want to help or support her do so directly

    I know Manipuris don’t care. On her decision to marry most parrot the Loitongbam decree that her personal life should not be discussed. Although the police have now commissioned a book attacking her personal life so no doubt all Manipuris will switch and join them. I have no interest in releasing private letters so that the bored “can thrive and fill their own emptiness with the secrets of others.” But think if you can. Every day a Manipuri commentator blames the british for something but only as a rant. Why cannot one Manipuri with intelligence demand that the British now intervene on behalf of one of its citizens. I assume because that would embarrass the British and you don’t want any action you don’t want to better Manipur you just want to whine about how bad things are because of the past you cannot change. First embarrass them get them to intervene for Sharmila then get them to apologize for past wrongs list them to the BHC not in solitary whining. Then go for compensation or ask them to act in the UNHRC for now only France and Slovakia have come forward.

    When I first posted about Sharmila and AF(SP)A people were encouraged that a foreigner would bring foreign support. We have true supporters mainly in Europe who brought in the European Union MEPs. There have been several conferences at Cambridge University but the Loitongbams won’t publicize anything to do with her true supporters.

    You have never realized how powerful you are and how terrified these goons are of you. You are cowards, selfish, narcissistic to be sure are not all the human family, but there are 2.5 million of you. That’s if you could work together. For now Kanglaonline will publish. I have no idea why tyrants fear the truth you’d think the gun gets them everything. But they do. Non-censorship is good but if the only response is why do you not use more polite language can we take that as the question has been asked and answered.

    • Well I am still amazed on the level of hatred you have on these people..We can understand your frustration so please keep clam and everything should be fine..everyone is trying what they can ..


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here