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16 June, 2010

Kerala marchers’ meeting with Irom Sharmila

A post dated May 25, based on information circulated by a human rights group, had stated that the Manipur authorities had denied the Hind Swaraj marchers from Kerala, led by Sara Joseph, permission to meet Irom Sharmila. In a conversation with Thaha Madayi, excerpts from which appear in the Mathrubhumi weekly (edition dated June 20, 2010, which is now in the market), Civic Chandran, coordinator of the march, has revealed that they were indeed able to meet Irom Sharmila. A rough English rendering of the relevant portion is given below

It was quite unexpectedly that we were able to see Irom Sharmila. We had to end the march (which began at Cherthala in Kerala) at Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh. At that time Manipur was going through two trouble-torn weeks. A 70-year-old former guerrilla leader was returning to his village in Manipur. He was in self-exile for 45 years. And in hiding. The Manipur government, fearing revolt, had closed the national highways. Life was at standstill. Commodity prices had grown five or six fold. When we got there rice was selling at Rs 100 a kilogram. It became almost impossible for us to enter the Northeast.

It was then that another possibility came up. Why not take a flight? Five of us took a plane to Imphal. We met the Chief Minister. We told him we had traveled all this distance and come from Kerala to meet Irom Sharmila. First he showed sympathy. Then he told us we have to go through the normal procedure. That means staying there for ten days.

At that stage we decided to use something of the characteristic Malayali cleverness. Irom Sharmila is a prisoner in the security ward of the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College in Imphal where there is tight security. We entered through the back door of the security ward. We pleaded with the nurse that we have come from very far, from the southern point of India, and want very much to meet Irom Sharmila. She called the police surgeon. We repeated the request to him. We thought she would go inside stone-faced and return with a higher ranking police officer who will bluntly say ‘no’ to us. Luckily, the curtains parted and Irom Sharmila appeared with two warders on each side. Irom Sharmila like a goddess descending from the sky in a Chinese opera! Ten years of fast has changed her into something other than an ordinary woman. Changed like a goddess in the calendar picture with a halo around her head. She is very tired. But there was determination on her face. There was will.

We told her: You will certainly win this struggle against the Armed Forces Act. You will emerge from prison. When you are out of prison we will come once again to invite you to Kerala. Tears started rolling down from her eyes when she heard that. We all sobbed too. I believe that India will overcome not through Kishanji but through Irom Sharmila. P. Chidambaram and Kishanji are birds of the same feather. One is seeking to protect the interests of his regime with arms. The other is seeking to overthrow this regime and establish his own, also with arms. My hope is in the Irom Sharmilas. Sharmila is there in all struggles from Narmada to Kinaloor. Gandhi too.

1 comment:

怡孜 said...