A new strategy to repeal AFSPA in Manipur, with food, marriage and politics from Irom Sharmila
Today my news-feed is filled with the multiple coverage of Irom Sharmila’s decision to end her 16 years of fasting on 9th August 2016. Indian Express, BBC, Reuters, The Hindu, Times Of India, NDTV, Economic Times and many others have featured her story, one of the few times I cannot complain about the media not picking up news of Manipur.
Most people seem surprised with her announcement including her own family members. I am equally surprised but surprised that it took her this long. And more than being surprised, some people seem to be disappointed, very disappointed by her decision passing judgemental remarks, questioning and criticizing her decision, her capability of joining politics and her choice of personal life.
Why do you question her decision to end the fast? What is the guarantee that the outcome will be any different than what we see now, even if she continues fasting? Would you rather she continue with the fast till the very end and then type “RIP” or join the long queue for the floral tribute donning the white mourning dress?
Why do you think politics is not for her? Which political figure of Manipur would you prefer? You supported and accepted her as she was fasting sitting in a corner, building up the image of the Iron lady, but the idea of her becoming a leader is repelling? Or Is it that the political scene in Manipur has become so muddied that you have given up hope on any change in that front?
You seeked out to her for giving statements and comments for the issues/causes time brought on, which are many in a state like Manipur but you forgot to ask about her? Maybe you did ask her, maybe she did share on her own, in her frail voice but her thoughts which are not in line with the cause was hushed or edited out. Why is the idea of her getting married questionable? Or is it her choice that is not acceptable?
16 years is a long time, must be even longer for someone who is fasting and living in solitude for the most part. When I met Eche Sharmila back in 2015, I saw a woman who wants to live her life beyond the movement she is standing for, a woman very much in love, and a very lonely woman who didn’t anticipate such a long journey. We cried together talking about her situations, even giggled over simple things in the short visit I had.
It must have taken a lot of courage to make this decision, and not fulfil a promise she had made publicly. As per the reports, she indicated that she will continue with the movement and is only changing the strategy as it’s clearly not working even after 16 years. Why alienate her with all these judgmental and criticizing comments after all the sacrifices she has made so far? Why not get together and support her?
I am very happy for her, for this potential alternative of living. A new chapter with a new strategy to repeal AFSPA with food, marriage and politics for Irom Sharmila. Go for it, Eche!
Monica Ingudam, founder of FindingTheVoices, a talk show presenting voices from different parts of the globe with the vision to promote and spread Inspiring, Educative, Empowering and Entertaining stories in the violence-torn landscape of Manipur.