Kolkata Programme in Solidarity with Irom Sharmila


A 12 hour dawn to dusk (6 am – 6pm) hunger strike was organised at Kolkata on November 5, 2009 in solidarity with Sharmila Irom Chanu. Sharmila, a poet and activist from Manipur entered the 10th year of her hunger strike demanding the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958. She started the hunger strike on November 2, 2009 at the age of 28 when the Indian Army massacred ten civilians in Malom, Manipur. On 6 November 2000 she was arrested by the police and charged with attempt to commit suicide under section 307 of the Indian Penal Code. Her health deteriorated gradually and she did not accept even a single drop of water.
The hunger-strike was organized by various little magazines and rights groups viz. Manthan, Akinchan Patrika, Swayangnijukti Patrika, Radical, Bigyan Manosikota Bikash Kendro, Sangbadmanthan Patrika, Ahalya Patrika, Kathak Patrika, Yuba Bharat, APDR and others from Kolkata and around. Around 50 people participated at the event apart from Jiten Nandi, Bharati Das, Mohidul Mondal, Bankim, Suman Raj, Arun Bhattacharya, Alok Dutta, Shamik Sarkar, Amita Nandi, Prashanta Haldar, Pradeep Jana and Sushovan Dhar who sat for the hunger-strike the whole day. Famous poet Shankhya Ghosh, leader of Janasangharsha Samiti Dr. Sanmathanath Ghosh, Gandhian activist Dr. Krishna Sen, Secretary of Little Magazine Library and Research Center Sandip Dutta met the strikers to extend their solidarity for the cause.
In this context is important to bear in mind that the Armed Forces Special Power Act introduced in 1958 grants the Indian military special powers throughout North-East India to:
•    Arrest citizens and enter their property without warrant;
•    Shoot and kill anyone on mere ‘suspicion’;
•    Enjoy immunity against legal action.
Under the cover of the Act the Indian armed forces have indulged in killing, torture, enforced disappearances and rape, bringing great shame to India and much misery to the people of Manipur.
The people of Kolkata assembled at the event demanded the repeal of AFSPA and all other draconian laws like the UAPA and saluted the heroic struggle by Sharmila and the people of Manipur.