Jantar Mantar meet acknowledges Sharmila


IMPHAL, Aug  10: Sampurna Trust and Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign jointly organized a solidarity action expressing deep respect for Irom Sharmila and supporting the ongoing struggle for justice by the civil society in Manipur at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi yesterday.
The solidarity event saw a large turnout of over 100 despite rainy weather, said a joint statement of the two bodies.
A one day fast was also held.
Participants included women’s movement activists Shanti, Runu Chakraborty and Nandini Rao, author of Irom Sharmila’s biography ‘Burning Bright’ Deepti Priya Mehrotra, human rights activists Devika Mittal, Ravi Nitesh, Shruti Achesh and Rita Manchanda, historian Uma Chakravarty, Monisha Behl of North-East Network, senior journalists Pamela Philipose and Sujata Madhok (President, Delhi Union of Working Journalists), Servants of the People Society Trustee, octogenarian Satya Paul, Activist Dipak Dholakia, NAPM (National Alliance of People’s Movements) activists Shabnam and Vimal Bhai, theatre activists Nisha and Afaqullah, R Geetha of Penuramma Iyakkam, Chennai, Sagari Ramdas and Madhoo who works with tribal groups in Andhra Pradesh, labour activist Rakhi Sehgal, academicians Mary John, Felix Padel and Anuradha Marwah Roy, volunteers of NGOs Sama and Saheli, students from JNU, Delhi University, South Asia University and several others.
The people gathered sang movement songs — songs of struggle, such as ‘Tu zinda hai to zindagi ki jeet mein yakeen kar’ and ‘Khamoshi todo vaqt aa gaya’.
Several persons have been inspired by Sharmila over the years, and this was evident in the energy of the gathering, said the statement.
Some read out poems they have written about Sharmila, including Sagari Chhabra: “You resist violence by denying yourself taste/Make haste, oh world, listen to this voice….”
The gathering noted that in August 1942, the British Government arrested Mahatma Gandhi and other leaders, and on August 15, 1942, it promulgated the Armed Forced Special Powers Ordinance, to quell the Quit India movement.
In 1958, the Indian Government promulgated the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), and subsequently imposed it in several parts of the country.
People in Manipur, including human rights and women activists, are struggling to get AFSPA repealed. The Act perpetuates violation of fundamental democratic rights by granting excessive powers, and impunity, to armed forces.
Recently, the Supreme Court of India ruled that over 1,500 cases of alleged ‘fake encounters’ in Manipur are to be thoroughly investigated.
The first six cases investigated have all been proved to be fake encounters – killing of innocent persons, by armed forces or police commandos.
The people gathered agreed that “humane, democratic solutions are needed to solve real problems faced by people, dialogue rather than repression.”
Each person lit a candle or a diya, as a mark of the continuing struggle for justice, peace and democracy in Manipur and the rest of the country, the statement said.
The group noted, “We care for democracy, peace, good governance and justice, and feel that we are all responsible for helping to bring this about. We need to listen, learn, and together search for ways to move ahead, to actually resolve many very difficult situations.”


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