Why is Indian Media treating Irom Sharmila as a step daughter?

By | April 16, 2011

Ever since Anna Hazare’s fast began, Indian Army. Still fewer Indians are interested in that vague appendage of their country – the northeast. Combine it all and not much is going to get through, though much has been written, protested, commented on, argued for and against, and so on.

Protesting against the nasty extra curriculur activities of our soldiers, Irom has been on a fast for a decade now. The AFSPA is still on as always, but Irom gets arrested routinely for attempted suicide and force-fed. Her fast now is for all the north east.

This latest tweet echoes the pained cry of many from the north east. Why does Indianot care? Why doesn’t Indian media talk about us? Why does a decade long fast not bring attention?

What does one say? We’ll have to begin by telling people that the Manipur they hear about is a proper state in what is collectively dismissed as the north east. Manipur, indeed the north east itself can be compared with the little toe of your foot. Its there, losing it would definitely hurt, but its not something you are aware of having in your body under usual circumstances. Sad, but true.

I rarely advocate anything for others. My advocacy is limited to my beliefs based on what works well for me. I can only share my reflections. The questions and answers that emerge in my mind when I think of this Iron lady of Manipur, Irom Sharmila.

When I first heard of Irom, I thought it was a publicity stunt. I’m not proud of it, but its true. That IS what I thought. A ten year fast and the woman is still in reasonably good health? Okay, next joke!

I don’t imagine I was alone in thinking this. What people don’t realize is that she IS fasting, even though medically, her naso gastric tube means that she is not. Whoever thinks that this is having her cake and eating it too, needs to be fed through a tube to discover how much fun it is…. NOT. Without getting into the why’s of it, suicide is a crime in India. Attempted suicide, that is. Apparently the country owns you so thoroughly that you don’t have a choice over your own life and death and you are arrested because you attempted to kill a citizen of this country. Nice.

Thing is, with this bizarre logic, she gets arrested, force fed. When she completes her sentence and is out, she is still not eating, so she gets arrested and force fed again. This insane cycle has been happening for  a decade now. So, while the average skeptic of a ten year fast is right in KNOWING that you can’t live for ten years without food, he is wrong in believing her to be cheating in some way and thus dismissing her protest.

For what its worth, she has not voluntarily eaten for a decade!

Irom Chanu Sharmila - The Iron Lady of ManipurWhich brings me to the second point. That which is being said about Anna Hazare too. A fast is undemocratic because its a form of blackmail. Personally, I have no issue with fasting, fasting to death, commiting suicide, etc. I firmly believe that it is that person’s life. I also believe that its not murder to let a fasting person starve to death out of choice. It is raising the stakes on a political demand and imposing a very short deadline. Pun not intended.

In this sense, those that call it terrorism, could have been justified, IF there was  a rule that said that if someone fasts, all his demands must be met. There is no such rule, as we see with Irom. The pressure to give in to demands can only happen from the demands being indisputably right and important enough to enough people that the government refusing demolishes the government’s credibility – as we see with Anna. Anna’s fast was hardly the news. It was the wave of protests sweeping the country that won the day. We still don’t even know the names of all the people who undertook to fast to death by Anna’s side. Not because they weren’t important, but because the movement had used the occasion of the fast to erupt in a countrywide outrage. This outrage was what got the government to give in, not the fast. Without the outrage, Anna would have been another Irom. Make no mistake, the government didn’t give a shit that way. They would have fed him one way or the other once his life seemed to be under threat. NO WAY would they have let his death be the monument to immortalize the allegations against them in people’s memory. With the scale of the outrage, this was impossible, and thus Anna’s fast became successful. Or, in other words, the movement became successful and Anna ate.

That’s how these things work.

When that deadline is bypassed by force feeding, in one stroke, both the high stakes as well as the deadline are gone. Simply put, it is no longer a crisis. It has been “managed”. Then comes the whole resentment against the force feeding, the anger that such a long sacrifice has gone waste, etc. To the government, that is like any other resentment and anger. The threat has been neutralized. Now, the anger around Irom’s sacrifice only serves to distract from the actual issue – AFSPA. The government will shuttle words to the end of time.

I have said earlier, I believe it is each person’s right to choose life and death to the extent they are able. Arresting someone for suicide is a double insult. In essence, we are telling an utterly depressed and defeated person that they are wrong and piling on more shit to what he is buried under by calling him an aggressor against an innocent citizen – when in reality he is both. Punishing him insults his suffering as meaningless. I don’t think this is a good thing. Such a person probably needs a psychologist intervening on his behalf with limited protective custody post which the person should be free to die if they wish. The objective being to enable the person to find some opportunities to want to live rather than preventing death.

Just clarified that, to set the background for what’s coming. And I am trying to say this as melodrama free as I can from a perspective purely of cause and effect. None of this is my endorsement for or against fasting or the AFSPA. I am simply speaking about what the objective is, and what is happening.

I think Irom should halt her fast. By allowing the government to keep demonstrating itspower over her, she weakens her own strength. What does it mean to fast unto death knowing that you will not be allowed to die? Her credibility is thoroughly destroyed because of these cheap tactics by the government. I support her that she has full right to fast and die if that is what she wishes, but it is serving no one and only creating more distractions from her real goal – getting the AFSPA repealed. The more time is spent talking about Irom, the more time it is spent in not pushing for the repeal, because the stake of her life attached to the repeal is no longer true.

In her place, I would be changing tactics. Or, I would be rallying up the kind of support that makes it impossible for the government to refuse. Not asking an India who barely knows Manipur exists, has the Army stationed or has any problem with it; but the people themselves. You don’t need India to protest to create change in Manipur. Anna Hazare, whose fasts are raising Irom’s question now has done movements in Maharashtra that brought change in Maharashtra with the rest of India barely coming to know that anything happened. India stood this time, because the change was for India. To get rid of the AFSPA in Manipur through Irom’s fast, it is going to take the people of Manipur and the north east to stand shoulder to shoulder with Irom, as they stood shoulder to shoulder with Anna.

If their belief in the cause is large enough, it will force the people administrating Manipur – the state government and Army to relook at matters. We see this happening in Kashmir. The AFSPA may not be repealed, but the human rights abuses are getting increasing attention toward resolving. Who knows what the end result will be? Who knows what Manipurs story will be? It will have to be written by Manipur.

For the record, I am stating that I believe the Army when it says the AFSPA makes it easier for them to pusue criminals. On the other hand, they have so thoroughly lost the accountability for the abuses arising from it, that I wouldn’t shed tears over them losing the easier way of doing things. After all, while I am patriotic, it is the soldiers who get paid to take risks. Not civilians. Either set up some means of recording every use of the AFSPA and investigating any conflicts, or get rid of the AFSPA. I say this either/or thing, because without accountability, the Army can do just as much damage without the AFSPA as with, and it will only have lost a tool against militants with no real gain for the people. So, to me, the human rights abuses are more important than the AFSPA, but I’m happy to have it shut down in the absense of accountability, investigations and justice.

I hesitated a long time to say this, because it seems callous to talk like this about someone’s suffering. To tell them to get their act together or abandon the method. Then, I questioned myself whether the point was in giving the politically pleasing answers of moral support and no change, or in supporting the struggle – in which case, my truth as I understood it could still be my support from Mumbai. It will take Manipur to change Manipur. It will take the northeast as a whole to rally behind Irom to change the whole north east. If this is not happening, then there needs to be some reflection around why that is so. Why are the Manipuris or the Northeasterners not rising up to support the leader they talk about so much.

Arundhati Roy is right when she says that a Satyagraha needs an audience, but the audience is not the media, but the people around to rise up and power the movement, and not applaud from the sidelines. Pleading to the media is useless unlesss a large number of people are able to risk themselves standing up. After all, its a democracy. What people want, happens. If they want to watch and munch popcorn, that happens too.

If no solutions are found, Irom’s fast frankly doesn’t matter. I have tremendous respect for her as a person of integrity. A person who took on the system how she could and stayed with the struggle for an unbelievably long time. That is on a personal level. As part of creating change, its not very useful on its own. I know it sounds heartless, but whatever the critics say, fasting is not particularly successful blackmail. Rather than make it a monument to how easily the demands are abandoned to one person, she should call a halt to the fast, stop being a symbol of a non-happening hope and do something else that engages more people if the original objective of repealing the AFSPA still stands. Then, with greater energy of people with her, she can address her objectives.

Summarizing:

  • Never mind media and India. If you mobilize the locals enough, they will be forced to pay attention. The key is in enough people believing in her cause and standing up for it. Not saying India is right, just focusing on what the objective is.
  • Tactics that work. When your attention and energy is focused on something, think of whether it is useful to your goal. The government will enjoy you talking about Irom Sharmila, because her fast serves to draw attention and ends up drawing attention away from the AFSPA – people’s attention span is short. They scan Irom…. AFSPA…. 10 year fast! That’s it.
  • EXPLAIN the 10 year fast. there are many who think she has “clauses” to the fast – as in liquids, etc. They don’t consider it a “real” fast. To get them to not dismiss the news, saying 10 years is not enough. Nor are things like repeated arrests, etc. You have to explain so that anyone understands – how is she still in good health after 10 years of fasting.
  • Drop the hyperbole. “super-human” only attracts debunkers. You want people to see here that it is a long sacrifice by someone who suffers as much as them.

Main thing is of course the support she should be getting, if people believe in her cause.

Related Post

6 thoughts on “Why is Indian Media treating Irom Sharmila as a step daughter?

  1. Desmond Coutinho

    I have been corresponding with Irom Sharmila for nearly two years. After reading Burning Bright I could not stop thinking about her she both horrified me and drew me to her. Most people know very little about her. She is a very simple conservative woman. She was originally inspired by Gandhijiri though she has broadened out that is still her way. She loves her people and she knows them. She knows them to be morally bankrupt, greedy, violent, the ruling elite for sure and she has always asked me to show respect. Because confrontation achieves only more violence. When I visited Imphal for two months recently yeah I touched feet and faced various humiliations for her. Corruption is rampant in Manipur. AF(SP)A was lifted from Imphal at the request of Longtoibam Babloo head of Human Rights Alert the main adviser to her brother Singhajit who is but a simple farmer so he tells me and does whatever Babloo tells him. Unfortunately this has given absolute power within Imphal to Babloo’s Uncle the DG of Imphal Police. I don’t share your trust in soldiers that far away from home. Imphal appears and can easily shift into functioning as a police state. People are terrified there or show quiet heroism. Now my last two days I got the full treatment of Babloo and his thugs. I guess he thought he could run me out of town. I was trying to get a meeting to say goodbye to Sharmila. The best we could have had was for me to sit and meditate maybe a few metres away from her while she was basically conked out with no water it takes only a few hours to exhaust you. I tried to maintain a water food fast with her but I broke after about 18 hours. I am rambling but this isn’t just about AF(SP)A. And most civilized countries work out a way to resolve internal disputes without giving absolute immunity to their troops but if your mind is made up as she says confrontation now only fixes you in your position. She picked one step. And that’s the one. I could have your soldiers arrested in London if they visited under the Crimes against Humanity Act. Gang rape in a war zone is prima facie a war crime and they can be tried in Europe under european law. The suicide charge also is not provable. The WHO have the Malta Protocols which prohibit Doctors from assisting in political detentions of hunger strikers. But I don’t want to die. It’s just if you use a legal fiction you start behaving strangely. What don’t you understand about her. That she is the biggest hearted woman I have ever met and the most ultra romantic and we did meet despite the opposition of the local police the grenade wielding meira paibee imas sort of like the paramilitary wing of the WI if they were composed of Carmelite nuns. And yeah I would have been terrified if I were capable of better self reflection and didn’t fast so much or have diarrhoea. Yep I am taking a more aggressive stance now. But even that is partly at her request. She set on the plan to invoke the High Court and Supreme Court challenging the blanket ban on visits to her, basically allowing Babloo to hold her prisoner of fortune so he gets to decide who sees her who interviews her and often he makes the interviews up. Ok she got the advice by challenging the Chief Judicial Magistrate HH Roland Keishing in February last. She also got me police protection from him but given that the DG of the Police Force, how did that work, well pretty much how you might imagine. Babloo is an idiot I am not a Manipuri he can have killed and no one will care about. Several disappeared in the two months I was there not mentioned by local press. The local press not national mentioned the two large car bombs and two grenade attacks for extortion in the centre of Imphal. She knows the hell that Imphal and Manipur is. This is a spiritual struggle. It is a satyagraha. I no longer write to politicians because they dont matter. You matter because you are a human being and you think. You dont have to agree with her but if you were to meet her or find out more about her well yes I am in love with her but I fell in love with her because she is a mahatma. I am far better education and have oodles higher IQ but she has consistently had more street sense and wisdom. It won’t get better either by letting the army be or following the western approach of inviting peacekeepers from NATO to win hearts and minds. Most claim to love her in Manipur by that they mean they will have anotehr small riot when she dies. None spoke for her when death threats were made against us by Babloo Longtoibam or when he spread a number of silly malicious rumours about us. He is now in Odissha on one of his junkets. I have never begrudged him his thing. But it is not compatible for him to push honour killings as just part of the backward nature of manipuri conservative culture that foreigners have to respect. It is not right that no human rights activist challenges him ever on his mean spirited persecution of Sharmila because he feels his ownership over his property is now slipping away. I have found a lawyer now with an international reputation who is already pretty much hated by Babloo so they have nothing more to lose. And I will challenge the blanket ban on visitors imposed by the Manipur Home Ministry which apparently has no legal validity and even if the High Court backed the Home Ministry I am assured the Supreme Court will assert her rights. I am doing this so we will be allowed prison visits. We love each other. I do not know what the future will bring. This action takes us one step closer. AF(SP)A repeal gives her freedom. But since she wants to stay in Manipur surrounded by violent greedy men who see her as a threat to their way of extortion and intimidation. We will reprise John and Yoko. I’ll be playing Yoko. If you send her your thoughts you can disagree with her she is allowed to receive mail this is India yes. Irom Sharmila Chanu, Security Ward, Jawaharlal Nehru I M S, Porompat, Imphal East, Manipur 795001 and if you would write an open letter to Babloo Loitongbam perhaps asking him to comment on my restrained complaints about his treatment of us we should be grateful. Small steps. I have never been so happy or at peace then loving and being loved by this mahatma. Whatever happens now I am content

    Reply
    1. Yaisana

      aren’t you that psycho who  called  us  Manipuris “snub nosed uglies”? you racist old man! and yes, we  are bunch of jokers, bullies, gangsters too, right? oh well! thanks a lot for all the verbal abuse hurled against us…and yes, we are the poorest of the poor, we don’t have electricity, water, basic education blah blah blah…well thanks again for your insight on Manipuri life!…….and  we have never denied it, poverty is our existence, our sisters and mothers are raped in front of us by Indian soldiers and our men are killed mercilessly….but these are the same people whom   our sister   Sharmila is fighting for, the lady you claim to have fallen in love with…we are not perfect but are much better than a cunning fox like you…she’s too good for you, too sad if she doesn’t realise it……one day you will risk your own life due to your false pride!
      No, never, Honour killing is not at all a part of our backward, as you would like too put, Manipuri culture, not at all…  honour killing is a  culture in states like Uttar pradesh, haryana, punjab, Middle eastern countries.  .. haven’t a moron like you ever  heard of the Honour  killing of some young lovers by jats in haryana? but never here in manipur, never.

      Reply
  2. Desmond Coutinho

    I have been corresponding with Irom Sharmila for nearly two years. After reading Burning Bright I could not stop thinking about her she both horrified me and drew me to her. Most people know very little about her. She is a very simple conservative woman. She was originally inspired by Gandhijiri though she has broadened out that is still her way. She loves her people and she knows them. She knows them to be morally bankrupt, greedy, violent, the ruling elite for sure and she has always asked me to show respect. Because confrontation achieves only more violence. When I visited Imphal for two months recently yeah I touched feet and faced various humiliations for her. Corruption is rampant in Manipur. AF(SP)A was lifted from Imphal at the request of Longtoibam Babloo head of Human Rights Alert the main adviser to her brother Singhajit who is but a simple farmer so he tells me and does whatever Babloo tells him. Unfortunately this has given absolute power within Imphal to Babloo’s Uncle the DG of Imphal Police. I don’t share your trust in soldiers that far away from home. Imphal appears and can easily shift into functioning as a police state. People are terrified there or show quiet heroism. Now my last two days I got the full treatment of Babloo and his thugs. I guess he thought he could run me out of town. I was trying to get a meeting to say goodbye to Sharmila. The best we could have had was for me to sit and meditate maybe a few metres away from her while she was basically conked out with no water it takes only a few hours to exhaust you. I tried to maintain a water food fast with her but I broke after about 18 hours. I am rambling but this isn’t just about AF(SP)A. And most civilized countries work out a way to resolve internal disputes without giving absolute immunity to their troops but if your mind is made up as she says confrontation now only fixes you in your position. She picked one step. And that’s the one. I could have your soldiers arrested in London if they visited under the Crimes against Humanity Act. Gang rape in a war zone is prima facie a war crime and they can be tried in Europe under european law. The suicide charge also is not provable. The WHO have the Malta Protocols which prohibit Doctors from assisting in political detentions of hunger strikers. But I don’t want to die. It’s just if you use a legal fiction you start behaving strangely. What don’t you understand about her. That she is the biggest hearted woman I have ever met and the most ultra romantic and we did meet despite the opposition of the local police the grenade wielding meira paibee imas sort of like the paramilitary wing of the WI if they were composed of Carmelite nuns. And yeah I would have been terrified if I were capable of better self reflection and didn’t fast so much or have diarrhoea. Yep I am taking a more aggressive stance now. But even that is partly at her request. She set on the plan to invoke the High Court and Supreme Court challenging the blanket ban on visits to her, basically allowing Babloo to hold her prisoner of fortune so he gets to decide who sees her who interviews her and often he makes the interviews up. Ok she got the advice by challenging the Chief Judicial Magistrate HH Roland Keishing in February last. She also got me police protection from him but given that the DG of the Police Force, how did that work, well pretty much how you might imagine. Babloo is an idiot I am not a Manipuri he can have killed and no one will care about. Several disappeared in the two months I was there not mentioned by local press. The local press not national mentioned the two large car bombs and two grenade attacks for extortion in the centre of Imphal. She knows the hell that Imphal and Manipur is. This is a spiritual struggle. It is a satyagraha. I no longer write to politicians because they dont matter. You matter because you are a human being and you think. You dont have to agree with her but if you were to meet her or find out more about her well yes I am in love with her but I fell in love with her because she is a mahatma. I am far better education and have oodles higher IQ but she has consistently had more street sense and wisdom. It won’t get better either by letting the army be or following the western approach of inviting peacekeepers from NATO to win hearts and minds. Most claim to love her in Manipur by that they mean they will have anotehr small riot when she dies. None spoke for her when death threats were made against us by Babloo Longtoibam or when he spread a number of silly malicious rumours about us. He is now in Odissha on one of his junkets. I have never begrudged him his thing. But it is not compatible for him to push honour killings as just part of the backward nature of manipuri conservative culture that foreigners have to respect. It is not right that no human rights activist challenges him ever on his mean spirited persecution of Sharmila because he feels his ownership over his property is now slipping away. I have found a lawyer now with an international reputation who is already pretty much hated by Babloo so they have nothing more to lose. And I will challenge the blanket ban on visitors imposed by the Manipur Home Ministry which apparently has no legal validity and even if the High Court backed the Home Ministry I am assured the Supreme Court will assert her rights. I am doing this so we will be allowed prison visits. We love each other. I do not know what the future will bring. This action takes us one step closer. AF(SP)A repeal gives her freedom. But since she wants to stay in Manipur surrounded by violent greedy men who see her as a threat to their way of extortion and intimidation. We will reprise John and Yoko. I’ll be playing Yoko. If you send her your thoughts you can disagree with her she is allowed to receive mail this is India yes. Irom Sharmila Chanu, Security Ward, Jawaharlal Nehru I M S, Porompat, Imphal East, Manipur 795001 and if you would write an open letter to Babloo Loitongbam perhaps asking him to comment on my restrained complaints about his treatment of us we should be grateful. Small steps. I have never been so happy or at peace then loving and being loved by this mahatma. Whatever happens now I am content

    Reply
  3. Desmond Coutinho

    I have been corresponding with Irom Sharmila for nearly two years. After reading Burning Bright I could not stop thinking about her she both horrified me and drew me to her. Most people know very little about her. She is a very simple conservative woman. She was originally inspired by Gandhijiri though she has broadened out that is still her way. She loves her people and she knows them. She knows them to be morally bankrupt, greedy, violent, the ruling elite for sure and she has always asked me to show respect. Because confrontation achieves only more violence. When I visited Imphal for two months recently yeah I touched feet and faced various humiliations for her. Corruption is rampant in Manipur. AF(SP)A was lifted from Imphal at the request of Longtoibam Babloo head of Human Rights Alert the main adviser to her brother Singhajit who is but a simple farmer so he tells me and does whatever Babloo tells him. Unfortunately this has given absolute power within Imphal to Babloo’s Uncle the DG of Imphal Police. I don’t share your trust in soldiers that far away from home. Imphal appears and can easily shift into functioning as a police state. People are terrified there or show quiet heroism. Now my last two days I got the full treatment of Babloo and his thugs. I guess he thought he could run me out of town. I was trying to get a meeting to say goodbye to Sharmila. The best we could have had was for me to sit and meditate maybe a few metres away from her while she was basically conked out with no water it takes only a few hours to exhaust you. I tried to maintain a water food fast with her but I broke after about 18 hours. I am rambling but this isn’t just about AF(SP)A. And most civilized countries work out a way to resolve internal disputes without giving absolute immunity to their troops but if your mind is made up as she says confrontation now only fixes you in your position. She picked one step. And that’s the one. I could have your soldiers arrested in London if they visited under the Crimes against Humanity Act. Gang rape in a war zone is prima facie a war crime and they can be tried in Europe under european law. The suicide charge also is not provable. The WHO have the Malta Protocols which prohibit Doctors from assisting in political detentions of hunger strikers. But I don’t want to die. It’s just if you use a legal fiction you start behaving strangely. What don’t you understand about her. That she is the biggest hearted woman I have ever met and the most ultra romantic and we did meet despite the opposition of the local police the grenade wielding meira paibee imas sort of like the paramilitary wing of the WI if they were composed of Carmelite nuns. And yeah I would have been terrified if I were capable of better self reflection and didn’t fast so much or have diarrhoea. Yep I am taking a more aggressive stance now. But even that is partly at her request. She set on the plan to invoke the High Court and Supreme Court challenging the blanket ban on visits to her, basically allowing Babloo to hold her prisoner of fortune so he gets to decide who sees her who interviews her and often he makes the interviews up. Ok she got the advice by challenging the Chief Judicial Magistrate HH Roland Keishing in February last. She also got me police protection from him but given that the DG of the Police Force, how did that work, well pretty much how you might imagine. Babloo is an idiot I am not a Manipuri he can have killed and no one will care about. Several disappeared in the two months I was there not mentioned by local press. The local press not national mentioned the two large car bombs and two grenade attacks for extortion in the centre of Imphal. She knows the hell that Imphal and Manipur is. This is a spiritual struggle. It is a satyagraha. I no longer write to politicians because they dont matter. You matter because you are a human being and you think. You dont have to agree with her but if you were to meet her or find out more about her well yes I am in love with her but I fell in love with her because she is a mahatma. I am far better education and have oodles higher IQ but she has consistently had more street sense and wisdom. It won’t get better either by letting the army be or following the western approach of inviting peacekeepers from NATO to win hearts and minds. Most claim to love her in Manipur by that they mean they will have anotehr small riot when she dies. None spoke for her when death threats were made against us by Babloo Longtoibam or when he spread a number of silly malicious rumours about us. He is now in Odissha on one of his junkets. I have never begrudged him his thing. But it is not compatible for him to push honour killings as just part of the backward nature of manipuri conservative culture that foreigners have to respect. It is not right that no human rights activist challenges him ever on his mean spirited persecution of Sharmila because he feels his ownership over his property is now slipping away. I have found a lawyer now with an international reputation who is already pretty much hated by Babloo so they have nothing more to lose. And I will challenge the blanket ban on visitors imposed by the Manipur Home Ministry which apparently has no legal validity and even if the High Court backed the Home Ministry I am assured the Supreme Court will assert her rights. I am doing this so we will be allowed prison visits. We love each other. I do not know what the future will bring. This action takes us one step closer. AF(SP)A repeal gives her freedom. But since she wants to stay in Manipur surrounded by violent greedy men who see her as a threat to their way of extortion and intimidation. We will reprise John and Yoko. I’ll be playing Yoko. If you send her your thoughts you can disagree with her she is allowed to receive mail this is India yes. Irom Sharmila Chanu, Security Ward, Jawaharlal Nehru I M S, Porompat, Imphal East, Manipur 795001 and if you would write an open letter to Babloo Loitongbam perhaps asking him to comment on my restrained complaints about his treatment of us we should be grateful. Small steps. I have never been so happy or at peace then loving and being loved by this mahatma. Whatever happens now I am content

    Reply
    1. Yaisana

      aren’t you that psycho who  called  us  Manipuris “snub nosed uglies”? you racist old man! and yes, we  are bunch of jokers, bullies, gangsters too, right? oh well! thanks a lot for all the verbal abuse hurled against us…and yes, we are the poorest of the poor, we don’t have electricity, water, basic education blah blah blah…well thanks again for your insight on Manipuri life!…….and  we have never denied it, poverty is our existence, our sisters and mothers are raped in front of us by Indian soldiers and our men are killed mercilessly….but these are the same people whom   our sister   Sharmila is fighting for, the lady you claim to have fallen in love with…we are not perfect but are much better than a cunning fox like you…she’s too good for you, too sad if she doesn’t realise it……one day you will risk your own life due to your false pride!
      No, never, Honour killing is not at all a part of our backward, as you would like too put, Manipuri culture, not at all…  honour killing is a  culture in states like Uttar pradesh, haryana, punjab, Middle eastern countries.  .. haven’t a moron like you ever  heard of the Honour  killing of some young lovers by jats in haryana? but never here in manipur, never.

      Reply
  4. Desmond Coutinho

    I have been corresponding with Irom Sharmila for nearly two years. After reading Burning Bright I could not stop thinking about her she both horrified me and drew me to her. Most people know very little about her. She is a very simple conservative woman. She was originally inspired by Gandhijiri though she has broadened out that is still her way. She loves her people and she knows them. She knows them to be morally bankrupt, greedy, violent, the ruling elite for sure and she has always asked me to show respect. Because confrontation achieves only more violence. When I visited Imphal for two months recently yeah I touched feet and faced various humiliations for her. Corruption is rampant in Manipur. AF(SP)A was lifted from Imphal at the request of Longtoibam Babloo head of Human Rights Alert the main adviser to her brother Singhajit who is but a simple farmer so he tells me and does whatever Babloo tells him. Unfortunately this has given absolute power within Imphal to Babloo’s Uncle the DG of Imphal Police. I don’t share your trust in soldiers that far away from home. Imphal appears and can easily shift into functioning as a police state. People are terrified there or show quiet heroism. Now my last two days I got the full treatment of Babloo and his thugs. I guess he thought he could run me out of town. I was trying to get a meeting to say goodbye to Sharmila. The best we could have had was for me to sit and meditate maybe a few metres away from her while she was basically conked out with no water it takes only a few hours to exhaust you. I tried to maintain a water food fast with her but I broke after about 18 hours. I am rambling but this isn’t just about AF(SP)A. And most civilized countries work out a way to resolve internal disputes without giving absolute immunity to their troops but if your mind is made up as she says confrontation now only fixes you in your position. She picked one step. And that’s the one. I could have your soldiers arrested in London if they visited under the Crimes against Humanity Act. Gang rape in a war zone is prima facie a war crime and they can be tried in Europe under european law. The suicide charge also is not provable. The WHO have the Malta Protocols which prohibit Doctors from assisting in political detentions of hunger strikers. But I don’t want to die. It’s just if you use a legal fiction you start behaving strangely. What don’t you understand about her. That she is the biggest hearted woman I have ever met and the most ultra romantic and we did meet despite the opposition of the local police the grenade wielding meira paibee imas sort of like the paramilitary wing of the WI if they were composed of Carmelite nuns. And yeah I would have been terrified if I were capable of better self reflection and didn’t fast so much or have diarrhoea. Yep I am taking a more aggressive stance now. But even that is partly at her request. She set on the plan to invoke the High Court and Supreme Court challenging the blanket ban on visits to her, basically allowing Babloo to hold her prisoner of fortune so he gets to decide who sees her who interviews her and often he makes the interviews up. Ok she got the advice by challenging the Chief Judicial Magistrate HH Roland Keishing in February last. She also got me police protection from him but given that the DG of the Police Force, how did that work, well pretty much how you might imagine. Babloo is an idiot I am not a Manipuri he can have killed and no one will care about. Several disappeared in the two months I was there not mentioned by local press. The local press not national mentioned the two large car bombs and two grenade attacks for extortion in the centre of Imphal. She knows the hell that Imphal and Manipur is. This is a spiritual struggle. It is a satyagraha. I no longer write to politicians because they dont matter. You matter because you are a human being and you think. You dont have to agree with her but if you were to meet her or find out more about her well yes I am in love with her but I fell in love with her because she is a mahatma. I am far better education and have oodles higher IQ but she has consistently had more street sense and wisdom. It won’t get better either by letting the army be or following the western approach of inviting peacekeepers from NATO to win hearts and minds. Most claim to love her in Manipur by that they mean they will have anotehr small riot when she dies. None spoke for her when death threats were made against us by Babloo Longtoibam or when he spread a number of silly malicious rumours about us. He is now in Odissha on one of his junkets. I have never begrudged him his thing. But it is not compatible for him to push honour killings as just part of the backward nature of manipuri conservative culture that foreigners have to respect. It is not right that no human rights activist challenges him ever on his mean spirited persecution of Sharmila because he feels his ownership over his property is now slipping away. I have found a lawyer now with an international reputation who is already pretty much hated by Babloo so they have nothing more to lose. And I will challenge the blanket ban on visitors imposed by the Manipur Home Ministry which apparently has no legal validity and even if the High Court backed the Home Ministry I am assured the Supreme Court will assert her rights. I am doing this so we will be allowed prison visits. We love each other. I do not know what the future will bring. This action takes us one step closer. AF(SP)A repeal gives her freedom. But since she wants to stay in Manipur surrounded by violent greedy men who see her as a threat to their way of extortion and intimidation. We will reprise John and Yoko. I’ll be playing Yoko. If you send her your thoughts you can disagree with her she is allowed to receive mail this is India yes. Irom Sharmila Chanu, Security Ward, Jawaharlal Nehru I M S, Porompat, Imphal East, Manipur 795001 and if you would write an open letter to Babloo Loitongbam perhaps asking him to comment on my restrained complaints about his treatment of us we should be grateful. Small steps. I have never been so happy or at peace then loving and being loved by this mahatma. Whatever happens now I am content

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