National Situation

Civil Society Appeal to Sonia Gandhi on Irom Sharmila's Struggle and abolition of AFSPA

Irom Sharmila completes 10 years of hunger fast against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

will sonia gandhi acknowledge her peaceful struggle and end
her solitary confinement while in imphal on nov 12, 2010?

Over the last few weeks the Manipur valley has been paying tribute to 10 years of the relentless struggle of the Imphal-based poet, Irom Chanu Sharmila, against the AFSPA. In response, the government of Manipur has systematically disrupted peaceful public meetings and banned rallies and concerts that were being attended by people from all over the country who had met to honour Irom Sharmila and re-iterate their long-standing demand for the immediate repeal of the AFSPA - a draconian law that has been force in many parts of the north east as well as Kashmir for almost 60 years now and left a terrible legacy of killings, torture, disappearances, rape, and many other crimes committed with impunity.

For too long, the government has turned a blind eye to excesses by the armed forces committed under AFSPA. For too long, it has refused to implement the recommendations of several of its own Committees – from the Justive Jeevan Reddy Committee to the 2nd Administrative Reforms Committee – to repeal AFSPA. For too long it has suppressed peaceful voices of protest like that of Irom Sharmila by holding her in solitary confinement, without rights of visitation granted even to convicted criminals in the country.

On November 12, 2010 Chairperson, UPA and AICC President, Ms Sonia Gandhi is scheduled to visit the Manipur valley to inaugurate some developmental projects and a Congress Bhawan Annexe Building. But it seems, that like the government she heads, Ms Gandhi has no time or inclination to listen to the voices of the people of Manipur, or indeed to live up to the promises made by her own government – after all, on 2 December 2006, PM Manmohan Singh promised the speedy removal of the AFSPA at the historic Kangla Fort from where she will now address a public meeting.

As Chairperson, National Advisory Council, we urge Ms Gandhi to go beyond political affiliations by meeting Irom Sharmila on her current visit, and initiating proceedings to end the undemocratic way in which Irom Sharmila’s freedom of liberty and speech have been taken away from her.

As democratic voices, peoples’ organisations, women’s and students groups and concerned individuals we demand that if Ms Gandhi truly wishes to do something for the people of the region, she must not remain silent on the spate of aggressions by the state government in the valley and hill areas, especially over the last year. She cannot visit the region and fail to initiate a political dialogue with the people. She cannot ignore the impact of militarization by the State that dominates peoples’ lives. She cannot remain silent on the AFSPA anymore.



1.       Uma Chakravarti, Feminist Historian

2.       Neingulo Krome, Former President, Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights

3.       Bimol Akoijam, JNU, Delhi

4.       Vani Subramanian, Saheli, Delhi

5.      Urvashi Butalia, Zubaan, publisher of Irom Sharmila’s book of poems, The Fragrance of Peace

6.       Harsh Mander, Special Commissioner for Food Security

7.       Yambem Laba, Ex- Member, Manipur Human Rights Commission

8.       Babu Matthew, Former Director, Action Aid

9.       Dr. K.S. Subramaniam, IPS, (Retd)

10.   Vrinda Grover, Lawyer

11.   Babloo Loitongbam, Human Rights Alert

12.   Dr. Th. Suresh Singh, Retd Director of Health Services

13.   Henri Tiphagne, People’s Watch, Madurai

14.   Jiteswar Sarma, Chairman, Manipur Peace Centre

15.   Ammu Abraham, Women’s Centre Mumbai

16.   Anand Chakravarti, Retd Prof Delhi University

17.   Anjuman Ara Begum, Dept of Law, GU

18.   Anuradha Pati

19.   Anusha Hari, JNU

20.   Asha Kotwal, Gen. Sec., NCDHR

21.   B. Prem Sharma, Social Worker

22.   Basantakumar Wareppa, Human Rights Alert

23.   Chit Ranjan Singh, INSAF/ P.V.C.L

24.   Chitra Ahanthem

25.   Cynthia Tiphagne, People’s Watch, Madurai

26.   Daisy Phukan, Photo Journalist

27.   Dhana Loukrakpam, Poknapham

28.   Diamond Vahali Oberoi, Delhi

29.   Dimple Vahali Oberoi, Shimla

30.   Forum Against Oppression of Women, Mumbai

31.   Geeta Charusivam, Tamil Nadu

32.   Geeta Seshu, Mumbai

33.   Geetanjali Gangoli, UK

34.   Honey Vahali Oberoi, Delhi

35.   Jayshree Mutum, S.G. Lecturer

36.   Joshy Joseph, Film maker

37.   Joya Mitra, Writer/ Environment Activist

38.   K.P. Sasi, Film maker/ Visual Search

39.   Kalpana Viswanath

40.   Kalyani Menon-Sen, Gurgaon

41.   Kamal Mitra Chenoy, JNU, Delhi

42.   Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Advocate

43.   Kamla Bhasin, Sangat South Asia

44.   Kh. Imomacha, Media

45.   Khaidem Mani, Advocate

46.   Khelen Thokchom, Media

47.   L. Pardisi, Committee on Human Rights

48.   L. Romikanta, Law Student

49.   Lena Ganesh, Mumbai

50.   M. Labeeb. Theatre

51.   M. Nilomani, Employee, Raj Bhavan

52.   Madhu Mehra, Partners for Law in Development, Delhi

53.   Maya Subrahmanian

54.   Meena Seshu, Sangram and VAMP, Sangli

55.   Meihoubam Rakesh, HRLN

56.   N. Pramod Singh, LMS

57.   Nilanjana Biswas, Bangalore

58.   Ningthuiyang, Law Student

59.   North East Network

60.   O. Jiten, Research Scholar

61.   O. Romen, Just Peace Foundation

62.   Oinam Doren, Photo Journalist/ Film maker

63.   Ojas S.V., Theatre Activist, Pune

64.   P. Biramangol, Teacher/ Writer

65.   Pamela Philipose, Women’s Feature Service, Delhi

66.   Paramita Nath, Independent Filmaker

67.   Penkoottu, Kozhikode, Kerala

68.   Ponni Arasu, Chennai

69.   Pramada Menon, Gurgaon

70.   Pramodini Pradhan, Civil liberty activist

71.   Prasanna Nair. Kochi, Kerala

72.   Pratiksha Baxi, Delhi

73.   Premjit, Businessperson

74.   Priya Thangarajah

75.   Ramlath Kavil, Mumbai

76.   Ratna Appnender, Student

77.   Richa, Jan Abhiyan Sanstha, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh

78.   Rohini Hensmen

79.   S.K. Yumnam

80.   Sajjad Hassan, Centre for Equity Studies, Delhi

81.   Salam Bidyalaxmi, Student

82.   Samrat Sinha, TISS

83.   Saratchand Thiyam, Sahitya Thoupang Lup

84.   Saumya Uma, Consultant - Gender, Law & Human Rights

85.   Shipra Nigam, IIT Delhi

86.   Shruti, Student, JNU

87.   Suneeta Dhar, Jagori, Delhi

88.   Supriya Madangarli, Mumbai

89.   Thresiamma Mathew, Archana Women's Centre, Kottayam

90.   Trupti Shah, Sahiyar (Stree Sangathan) Vadodara

91.   Nisha Biswas, Scientist, Activist

92.   Veena Gowda, Lawyer

93.   Bisakha Dutta, Point of View, Mumbai

94.   Teena Gill, Filmmaker, Delhi

95.   Vineeta Bal, Scientist, New Delhi

96.   Mary John, Director, Centre for Women’s Development Studies