“I was half conscious most of the time but whenever I regained consciousness, the commandoes were molesting me…but, I am grateful to them for giving me the chance to narrate my agony by sparing my life at least”, revealed one of the thousands of women who were raped by army men who are guarded heavily by the autocratic law of AFSPA.
AFSPA or Armed Forces Special Powers Act, passed in 1958, rules all the north east states(except Sikkim) and Jammu and Kashmir. It was imposed to check insurgency. AFSPA allows shooting the “suspects” and provides legal immunity to the army men. Because of this, in the name of protecting law and order, AFSPA has led to extra judicial killings, fake encounters, illegal detentions, torture and rapes. The law was enforced in Manipur in 1980 and was supposed to last six months but it continues to destroy it till today.
In 2000, a Manipuri poet and activist, Irom Chanu Sharmila, decided to adopt a non-violent and peaceful method to seek attention of the Government. She decided to fast for a day but the fast continues till date. The Government has not only ignored her but has also suppressed her by charging her with “attempt to suicide”. She is arrested and faces a trial, every year. She has also been forceful fed by nasogastric tube and is confined to the Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital in Imphal.
Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign (SSSC) supports her and her struggle to repeal the draconian act of AFSPA. For over an year, SSSC has been spreading awareness and gathering support for her through public demonstrations, candle-light vigils, awareness programmes in colleges, nation-wide signature campaign and two caravans which covered almost all the states of the country.