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The second coming

by williamgurumayum
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Iron Lady of Manipur- Irom Sharmila Chanu, after fasting for more than sixteen years as a mark of protest against the excesses of the Indian government as exemplified by the callous and often brutal treatment meted out to the public of the state in an almost antagonistic attitude by the armed forces deployed in Manipur behind the archaic and draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958, have resolved to break her fast and take up a more political means to achieve her demand for scraping AFSPA from the entire state. The decision surprised everyone who had known of her crusade, and that includes the national and international media, human rights activists and organizations as well as her supporters. There were strong reactions to the announcements, mostly tinged with a wish to see her continue with the fast. Some even hinted that the decision might be a spur of the moment, implicitly expressing the disappointment over the largely unexpected turn of event. Some even assumed that the Iron Lady has given up on the cause she has given more than one and half decade of the best part of her life. Nothing can be further from the truth, and Sharmila owes no explanation to anyone about anything. As far as her resolve to refrain from eating while struggling for repealing the AFSPA from Manipur is concerned, she had succeeded beyond every expectations and obstacles. She has shown her grit and determination unlike anyone the state has ever produced, so far. Lest we forget, her struggle stems from the desire to lead a peaceful, meaningful and productive life shorn of the unwanted distractions and restraints that makes living a daily challenge for the simple public who are constantly forced to look down the wrong end of the barrel of a gun or barter ones earnings for the very life the earning is to sustain. Sharmila’s struggle is for a life free of fear or undue restraints, and her resolve to turn to politics to try and realize her goal should be appreciated as such. And yet, there are many who still evidently fail to see the selfless motive behind the decision. Her struggle is not for her own individual self. What she has been enduring for so long without regret or remorse is for all of us. It is time for us all to shed our preconceived notions and stop stereotyping every phenomena or incident in order to fit our perspective. Sharmila’s struggle against AFSPA and the excessive atrocities it spawned in the state has not stopped, but has rather taken a new direction- a direction evidently chosen after much deliberation and soul searching. Nobody has the right to question Sharmila’s intention or strength of character, nor her resolve or fighting spirit she has so glaringly demonstrated for so long. Her foray into the world of politics will hopefully influence a new generation of politicians who get their kicks out of performing beyond expectations rather than exploiting the trust and deceiving the naïve public for their personal benefits. Sharmila needs us all in her new venture, and we must not let her down again. But more than anything, the state needs Sharmila at this juncture more than ever.

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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