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Chained feeding

We at IFP were indeed shocked at the image of ILP hunger striker KB Sharma being chained to a hospital bed. We chose to publish it to show to the world the audacity of the state towards peaceful protestors. We may or may not agree with the cause that the 72 year old had chosen to champion. That is beside the point. Let us close our eyes and pretend for a moment that the person chained to the hospital bed is Mahatma Gandhi for he is the all time champion of non-violence. KB Sharma is only following in his footsteps. Why should a person willing to sacrifice his life for a cause should be treated like a common criminal? When Anna Hazare went on an indefinite hunger strike, the Union government treated him with respect even though there were differences over the formation of the anti-corruption body. In the first instance, he fasted for 5 days and the government or its agencies like the police could not touch him. He ended the fast after the government agreed to form the body. There are still differences on the composition of the body which are yet to be thrashed out. But, the issue here is not of Anna Hazare’s issue. It is about how the Union government handled his indefinite fast. Whereas in a autocratic state like Manipur, indefinite hunger strike has been reduced to a joke by the state government and the police in recent times. Many a hunger striker had been arrested on charges of attempt to suicide and force-fed in the jail. The legendary hunger striker Irom Chanu Sharmila is still being charged with the attempt to suicide, even as she was honored with the Gwangju Award. There is also a debate on the interpretation of indefinite hunger strike or fast. The famed police officer and Anna Hazare’s associate Kiran Bedi had interpreted Anna Hazare’s strike as indefinite fast. She had opined, it should not be confused with fast unto death. Quote “As long as he can fast, he’ll continue the fast. But the moment Dr Naresh Trehan’s team is of the view that he needs medical attention, he will get medical attention because the object is that it is an indefinite fast and not a fast-unto- death,” unquote. That was exactly her words. While indicating that there will be no confrontation with government over the issue of providing medical attention to the Gandhian, Bedi said they do not view the agreement over Hazare’s agitation as a victory for one side and defeat for the other. We liked Kiran Bedi’s idea. Given such an interpretation, where is the locus standi of the suicide theory. But Manipur is far far away from New Delhi. Kakchingtabam Birahari Sharma, aged 72, from Thongju Part-II in Imphal East, who has begun an indefinite hunger strike from July 6 demanding the implementation of Inner Line Permit System in the state, has been put in chains while doctors at Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences (JNIMS)  administered to him glucose saline. KB Sharma was arrested by a team of Singjamei Police in the intervening night of July 7 and 8 from Kwakeithel Akham Leikai Community Hall on charge of attempt to commit suicide under Section 309 of Indian Penal Code. He was remanded to judicial custody after he refused to take bail while he was produced before the Judicial Magistrate 1st Class (JMIC), Imphal West. KB Sharma had himself expressed to IFP that doctors have administered several injections on him without his consent. The act of chaining him and of forcible injection is in itself a criminal act and nobody involved in the act or of ordering it should be let scot free. As the act surely involves a chain of command.



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