Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign is a nation-wide campaign in support of Irom Sharmila and for the repeal of the draconian law of AFSPA. For three years now, it has been working to spread awareness, mobilise support and generate political pressure to repeal the law. In this regard, it has organised awareness campaigns, public demonstrations, two nation-wide awareness rallies, nation-wide signature campaign, met NHRC chairperson, written letters to PMO, the President and other authorities etc. It is an umbrella of many civil society organisations.
In the wake of the elections, it had also organised several intiatives like writing to all political parties to include the demand of repeal of AFSPA in their manifesto and an anti-AFSPA rally in Delhi. Now, with the coming of the new Government, SSSC appeals to the new government to work for the people and repeal AFSPA.
On behalf of SSSC, core members Ravi Nitesh and Devika Mittal wrote letters to the PMO and MHA to repeal AFSPA on the grounds of humanity, democracy and trust building. The Manipur unit of BJP had also promised the repeal of AFSPA during elections so they are now being urged to fulfil their promise that they made to the people who trusted them and voted for them.
Please find enclosed the letter that was sent to the PMO and MHA.
Devika Mittal/Ravi Nitesh
Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign
Hon’ble Minister of Home Affairs,
Government of India
New Delhi – 110001
Subject: About fulfilling BJP’s promise to repeal AFSPA
Kind Attn: Sh. Rajnath Singh ji
Many congratulations to your party and to you for the people’s mandate that led to your stunning victory in these elections. The massive and stunning victory of BJP shows that people had shown their faith in you. It was a vote of faith. With your victory, the time has come to prove to them that they were right.
In this regard, we appeal to you to fulfill your promise of restoring humanity in Manipur. During the elections, the Manipur unit of BJP had declared that if voted to power, the undemocratic and arbitrary law of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) will be repealed. This has reference to the news report in the Hindu dated 17th May 2014 and also in several other newspapers. We were happy to learn about this that you had shown your faith in working for the people, for humanity. It has given us a new hope. So now that you have been bestowed with the trust of the people to restore humanity, we appeal to keep your word and take the humane decision to repeal AFSPA.
AFSPA which has been existing for 60 years now has devastated the affected regions. There has been a gross violation of human rights in these areas. With arbitrary powers and legal impunity granted to armed forces, AFSPA has led to extra-judicial killings, fake encounters, rapes and torture of civilians. AFSPA challenges the basic fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution of India. It has become a political issue in which the only sufferers are the common people.
In this regard, as you know, Irom Sharmila or the Iron lady of Manipur, has entered the 14th year of her hunger-strike against AFSPA. For 14 years, she has been pleading for humanity. Her struggle of 14 years shows her relentless faith in the democratic institutions. She is hopeful that someday the Government will listen to her. She is a true democrat yet her democratic way of protest is being ignored in the ‘World’s largest democracy’.
She has been charged with the attempt to commit suicide but that is wrong. It was not suicide, it is a great sacrifice, a struggle for humanity. In her court trials and in interviews, she has said that she loves her life and is only demanding that the fundamental rights that are granted in the constitution should be extended to people in North-East India. Sir, Irom Sharmila was not a social activist. She was not even a direct victim of the law. Yet, she is on a hunger-strike for 14 years. And she is not alone.
We are a part of the Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign, a nation-wide protest against the neglect and suppression of Irom Sharmila. For over three years now, the campaign has been organizing public demonstrations, awareness programmes in colleges, signature campaigns in about 20 states and nation-wide rallies to spread the word about her and her struggle. From all these, we have gathered that people are sympathetic towards her, her cause. People believe in her. The Supreme Court, NHRC, several national and international human rights’ organizations have also regarded AFSPA to be a draconian law. Even the government’s own committees like Jeevan Reddy committee recommended already for its repeal, Justice Verma committee that was formed after Delhi Rape case (Nirbhaya case) had also recognized the sexual violence that happens under the garb of AFSPA and had recommended that these sexual violence cases should be treated in the same way as sexual violence cases in non-AFSPA states.
AFSPA does not have the mandate of the people. In regard to democracy and humanity, we demand that:
1. Immediate steps must be taken to Repeal AFSPA from Manipur on the basis of ‘promise’ by your party but the more than that on the basis of ‘Justice’ and ‘humanity’.
2. Immediate steps to Repeal AFSPA from other regions of North east and J&K.
We also understand that these steps may be immediate but may take some time to be executed on ground, and therefore we also hereby demand as interim actions:
1. Charges of ‘commit to suicide’ must be taken back from Irom Sharmila Chanu and she must be set free. Her fast is for the life, and not against life in anyway, also it is for the society and not for any personal reason. With the interim relief, Government must order to remove charges of section 309 (attempt to suicide case) from New Delhi and Manipur both places and must set her free to meet people like any normal citizen can.
2. The Govt of India, must meet officially with Irom Sharmila to convey its initiatives in this regard.
3. The recommendation of the Justice Verma committee regarding the sexual violence cases under AFSPA should be implemented.
Also, as everyone has some expectation from change of government, SSSC appeal to the Govt of India to take concern of the plight of common people of Manipur who had also showed their trust in govt by their vote and that on the reasons of ‘justice’ as well as for ‘welfare’ and ‘trust building’, it must repeal AFSPA at the earliest.
Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign
Copy to: Hon’ble Prime Minister of India