Irom Sharmila Chanu
Irom Sharmila Chanu

Sharmila (15.7.2013)

By: Sophia Arambam

A legend, an enigma, a unique human being,
Unsung and unknown
To most people of the world,
Frail body, wild hair, pale skin and pipes in her nose
I met her for the first time yesterday.
Pausing in her brisk walk through the small hospital corridor
She disinterestedly listened to my inane words.
She calls herself, “Queen of Prison”
But if kings and queens were to come to her,
She wouldn’t even smile,
But might ask them with her firm voice
Can you remove AFSPA from Manipur?
If the Chief Minister, or even the Prime Minister were to meet her,
She wouldn’t even care
But she might just ask them,
Why haven’t you removed AFSPA from Manipur?
If the richest man on earth were to offer her all his wealth
It would mean nothing to her,
But she might only ask him:
Can your wealth remove AFSPA from Manipur?
If God were to gift her the tampha khudop yaioiba
She would accept it
But to wish only for one thing
‘Remove AFSPA from Manipur, from the face of the Earth’
The draconian law that robs the basic right of all human beings
The right to a fair trial and justice,
Even if guilty of murder and all evil crimes,
Whereby the Armed Forces is bestowed the power
Of being Judge, Jury, Executioner.
For its removal she has been fasting
For 11 long years, no food has she taken,
Except liquid food forcibly nose-fed through pipes,
She languishes in hospital, in court and in jail
The only three places which is now her ‘Home’
Nothing matters to her except her cause.

AFSPA- Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958.
Tampha Khudop Yaioiba- Ring supposedly with superpowers, a myth whereby the ring grants all the wishes of the wearer.


  1. I have no idea why Manipuris offer zero support to Sharmila. I lobby foreigners most ignore but some help, they write they send books and they lobby their politicians. Without exception no Manipuri will give Sharmila any real support. So yes you get this chap composing a poem they say based on a visit they had in 2013. Since December 2013 anyone can visit her by approaching the SSP Imphal Central Jail directly. Yet only foreigners make the effort. The press are bought or intiimidated. The main letters she had received for a while from Imphalites were hate mail and death threats. I am still accused of only pretending to help. If this comment is allowed to stand then can you Manipuris at least start pretending. As a tactic getting her to trial in Delhi I would have thought if you thought about it might bring more press and political attention to the Satyagraha. Yet I still get the odd Manipuri saying she was sent once and it made no difference. And at the same time saying they ignore us because this is Imphal if something happens in Delhi the whole of India cares. Many Manipuris kowtow to the police and security forces which in turn are owned by a few families of netas and babus basically Hindi for ruling criminal classes. Epao I don’t bother with any more poor rich bangaloreans who think Imphal is a beautiful city because it’s been years since they have seen it and they may never see it again. The Elections my prediction is Manipuris will sell their votes again the two Congress UPA incumbents will be returned on drug money. I believe mainland Indians do understand democracy better. The Government will change. And that’s the best hope for the removal of the AFSPA. The fact that the State Government would now be at odds with Delhi would bring about a fresh chance for the removal of the AFSPA. It was her dream that she might awaken the people of Manipur to their power. But that was always a choice for Manipuris. I am sure once the ruling classes realize that after AFSPA goes I am not going to try to take them on. They’ll let me leave with the woman. Manipur will be rejuvenated once AFSPA goes. And go it will by next year. And the rejuvenation of this dead decrepit economy will bring prosperity and stability. It’s not rocket science. For a people who claim to be more intelligent more hard working more brilliant in every way than the mainland it’s a pity you still don’t get it. Humanity is blessed with short memories. When the rule of law returns, real jobs are on offer, a basic infrastructure is built and Manipur starts to see hundreds of percent GDP growth over the next five years (easy to do when you start so low) by all means show the world how brilliant you all are. It’s a pity you could take no more an active share in the removal of the AFSPA as you do now in its maintenance. Let me make myself clear in case there was ever an understanding. They say you eat dogs in Manipur. I haven’t really seen many there. But the more time I have spent in the company of Manipuris the more I prefer the company of dogs. I’ll live whereever she chooses and if she chooses to leave Manipur it will double my joy. You claim to want positive options. Remove the incumbents. Make a noise about the trial next production warrant 28 May. Visit her by applying in person to the SSP Imphal Central Jail. Or whine and write poetry you couldn’t even have been bothered to send on to her. I think I’ll go feed some wild birds. I prefer them to Manipuris too. They are more straightforward.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here