NEW DELHI: It was again an opportunity for me to meet her as she appeared for her hearing at a Delhi court. She was registered in the Delhi police book as criminal and her offence is her fast. The indefinite fast is in support of her demand that the Government of India to repeal the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

Irom Sharmila is observing fast as a form of protest since the year 2000, and she had started it just after the Malom massacre where troops of the Assam Rifles had fired upon local civilians who were waiting at a bus stand in Malom, Imphal (Manipur). All were killed. Irom decided to register her protest as incidents of torture and killings were common in Manipur and behind the veil of the powers under AFSPA, nothing could be done against the security personnel responsible for such violations. Irom sharmila on fast since then has only one demand, Repeal AFSPA. She is convinced that AFSPA is responsible, as it provides extraordinary powers to security personnel, and these powers have been misused widely.

Irom Sharmila refused to break her fact, Manipur police registered a case against her under section 309 of ‘attempt to suicide’. As, the maximum punishment under this case is of one year, Irom Sharmila came to Delhi in the year 2006. She paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat and later joined a fast at Jantar Mantar. Delhi police also registered the case under the same section and the matter went to court. Presently, Irom Sharmila is under arrest by Manipur police and confined to the security ward of JLN hospital of Manipur. The case in Delhi also, is still going on as well. She was brought to Delhi under heavy security on October 6-7 to appear before the Delhi court.

Meeting her this time and talking her was again a learning experience like every time. While talking about the sufferings of the people in Manipur , she said that people must respect each other and must see everyone in the light of humanity. She said that the participation of the people in her struggle is very important as her fast is for the people of Manipur. While talking about diversity in the North East and the important role of women, Irom said that many people try to project her ethnic identity, or as a woman, but she wants to be known as just a human being.

She also met with members of the Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign and with Swami Agnivesh. Sharmila told Agnivesh that she loves her body and God knows better about this than herself, when she was asked by him about the pain she is undergoing.Swami Agnivesh conveyed his support to her and promised to raise a voice for the cause. She also showed him a sample of the postcards that were sent to her in solidarity by students with messages written on it. She was happy to see that how people from all age groups are supporting the cause she is fighting for.

Every time when I meet, I ask her, what do you expect from this democracy when the governments have not been listening to you since the last 15 years? She always smiles, and says, ‘I have faith in democracy. the Government will listen one day.”

Sadly though the government is not listening, and even one of her demands to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not been accepted as yet. She thinks PM Modi does not want to meet her as probably the government has no reply to her demands and questions about suppression of the people through AFSPA.