August 25th, 2011
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Manipur in tear’s: media ignores Irom Sharmila

irom sharmilaImphal: Manipur, civil right activist’s are pained by the mainstream Indian media’s nonchalance towards Irom Sharmila’s over a decade-long hunger strike and for blowing activist Anna Hazare’s anti-graft fast out of proportion even as he enters the 10th day of his fast.  Irom Chanu Sharmila,’Iron Lady of Manipur’ has been fasting over a decade against human rights violations by the security forces in the region.

“There is a general sense of feeling that we, the people of the northeast, have always been neglected, discriminated, and looked down upon by the rest of India, including the mainstream media. See how Anna’s fast has hogged media headlines and see our very own Irom fasting for nearly 11 years,” Singhajit Singh, a civil rights campaigner and elder brother of Sharmila, said on  Sunday.

Sharmila began her fast on Nov. 2, 2000, after witnessing the killing of 10 people by the army at a bus stop near her home. The 40 year old woman, campaigning for the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that enables security forces to shoot on sight and arrest anybody without a warrant has been arrested several times on charges of attempted suicide, sent to prison hospital, force fed via nasal drips and tormented beyond limits.

“The attitude of the Indian public is sad in the sense that something happening in the northeast is seldom recognized by the mainstream media. The whole attitude is discriminatory,” said Babloo Loitongbam from a local human rights group. Sharmila is currently being held in an isolated cabin at the Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital here.

“If Anna was born in Manipur and Sharmila born in New Delhi, things would have been just the reverse. For the mainstream media, northeast or things happening in the northeast hardly excites them,” Singh said.

AFSPA was passed in 1990 to grant security forces special powers and immunity from prosecution to deal with raging insurgencies in the northeastern states and in Jammu Kashmir.



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