IMPHAL: Hailed as the “Iron lady”, Manipur’s iconic hunger striker Irom Sharmila seemed to have paid a price for ending her marathon hunger strike.
Disdained by people in the aftermath of her release, she now finds herself within the four walls of a ward at Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences (JNIMS) where she spent the last 16 years of her life. She is under the care and watch of the state government as she has no place to go to.
The activist had said on Tuesday that she would not go home till she achieved her goal, which is the repeal of controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA). But her family stood by her, saying the doors were open for her.
“Sharmila’s stand is that she will not come home till AFSPA is repealed. But if she changes her mind and decides to come and stay at home, she is welcome,” her elder brother Irom Singhajit told Express.
Escorted by the police, she tried to visit the residence of a doctor and an NGO-run shelter home on Tuesday evening but was booed away by locals. Fearing threat to her life, the cops then escorted her to the office of city police, to be eventually shifted to the JNIMS at night.
The Red Cross is planning to give accommodation to her but Singhajit said shifting her sister to another place would take time.
“The government is worried about her health. Some senior officials have told me that the government won’t allow her to be shifted till she gets adapted to normal life,” he said.
Sharmila, the face of the movement against AFSPA, is viewed in Manipur as someone next to god. Through her, the people had dreamt of seeing the repeal of AFSPA. So, when she decided to end her fast, get married and contest elections, they were perturbed by worries about the virtual culmination of the movement.
Sharmila’s octogenarian mother Sakhi Devi said her daughter’s decision made her neither happy nor sad.
“She should’ve consulted me and taken my blessings which she did at the time of starting the fast 16 years ago,” the mother said.