Rights activist Irom Sharmila, who was on a 16-year hunger strike against the black law Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), said that after the recent killing of civilians in firing by Indian forces in Nagaland the draconian law should be repealed from the northeast Indian states.
49-year-old rights activist, Sharmila said the AFSPA is not only an oppressive regulation but it is also main cause of gross violation of basic human rights.
The AFSPA empowers Indian army and other uniform forces and their agencies to conduct operations anywhere and arrest anyone without prior warrant. In the northeast, it is in force in Assam, Nagaland, Manipur (excluding Imphal Municipal Council Area) and some districts of Arunachal Pradesh, bordering Assam.
“For how long will the people of the region suffer because of it? In the name of battling insurgency, you can’t take away people’s basic rights. There are other ways to tackle it,” Sharmila told Indian state media.
Claiming that people from the northeast have to face discriminatory treatment, Sharmila, who unsuccessfully contested the 2017 Manipur assembly elections, said the “rampant violation of human rights in the name of AFSPA stems from that discrimination”.
“We are harassed and humiliated… You have to change your mindset,” she said.
The ‘Iron lady of Manipur’ also said she has realised that her lengthy hunger strike did not achieve its purpose. “All my life, I believed in the Gandhian principles of non-violence. My fast was a non-violent way of registering my protest and press for the people’s demand. But after 16 years, when I ended my hunger strike, a lot of people misunderstood me. It failed to accomplish any purpose,” she added. —Agencies