Imphal, May 22 :
Activist Irom Chanu Sharmila, on a fast-unto-death since the past 10 years against alleged rights violations by security forces, wants to meet Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi to secure his help in getting AFSPA repealed in Manipur, her lawyer said Thursday.
“She has expressed a desire to meet Prime Minister(-designate) Narendra Modi to highlight the sufferings of the people through the imposition of AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) in Manipur and in other northeastern states as well,” Sharmila’s counsel Khaidem Mani told IANS.
“We will seek an appointment with the prime minister. We are hopeful that the prime minister would give Sharmila an audience to listen to her. Sharmila is optimist that the new government will surely heed her words and repeal AFSPA from Manipur,” he said.
Sharmila, described as the ‘Iron Lady of Manipur’, has been on an indefinite hunger strike since Nov 2, 2000 in Manipur, demanding the withdrawal of AFSPA from the state after witnessing the killing of 10 people by the army at a bus stop near her home.
AFSPA, which was passed in 1990, gives Indian armed forces arbitrary powers in states such as Jammu and Kashmir and Manipur that have been declared “disturbed areas” because of ongoing armed militancy.
Sharmila will be flown to New Delhi May 27 and will be presented before the metropolitan magistrate the next day. She would be accompanied by a doctor, two nurses, a women police team and two jail officials.
She, meanwhile, indicated her support for the Aam Admi Party while rejecting Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh’s offer for her to join the Congress.
Several human rights groups, including the North East Students’ Organisation, have also been demanding withdrawal of AFSPA.
Amnesty International has campaigned vociferously against the law. However, army officials maintain that it was for the central and the state governments to decide whether to revoke or continue AFSPA.
Human Rights Alert – an Imphal-based rights group – is not confident that the incoming National Democratic Alliance government would repeal AFSPA.
“We do not foresee that the Modi government will repeal AFSPA as he has never mentioned repealing of the controversial act during his electioneering in Manipur,” Babloo Loitongbam, executive director of Human Rights Alert, told IANS.
“Nonetheless, we hope that they will repeal AFSPA,” Loitongbam said.