DINDIGUL/GUWAHATI: After years of speculation, it’s time for the real thing. Iconic Manipur civil rights activist Irom Chanu Sharmila and her long-time partner Desmond Coutanho, a British national, on Wednesday approached the sub-registrar office in Kodaikanal to get their marriage registered.
That was when the media knew they made Kodaikanal their home, having rented a pad at Pethuparai last month. Apart from sightseeing during the last four weeks, Sharmila was busy opening her bank account and getting an Aadhaar card.
With their lawyer in tow, she submitted her application form to sub-registrar Rajesh and furnished residential proof and other papers. But the marriage can’t happen immediately as the special marriage Act stipulates giving 30 days for people to file objections, if any. Rajesh set the process rolling by pasting their wedding notice in the office notice board. Sharmila is OK with the cooling-off period.
“No objections,” says her brother Irom Singhajit, one of her nine siblings based in Imphal. “She is an adult and is free to make her choice,” he says, but adds that he was not aware of their marriage application, indicating she has not been keeping in touch.
So, does it mean the Iron Lady of Manipur has gone all soft after a bruising run in the elections? She had earned her spurs by becoming the face of resistance against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act since she was on hunger strike for 16 long years.
While critics say she has forgotten Manipur and abandoned the cause, Sharmila claims she will resume the struggle against oppression in a different form later.
She chose Kodai to “get some peace and stay in the lap of Nature”. Her next big engagement will be the South Asian Youth Summit in September