In the backdrop of escalated tensions between India and Pakistan, rights activist Irom Sharmila on Saturday said there was “no need for war-mongering” from either side, while emphasising that lasting peace can be achieved through dialogues and not aggression.
“There are Hindu and Muslim families living on both sides, and I do not see why there should be enmity or quarrel. There should not be any war-mongering from India or Pakistan side. There should be no aggression or a bid to show as to who is more powerful or wiser. We should work out peace through negotiations… If I was the PM, I would just say, people should just cool down,” she told a press conference.
The Manipuri ‘Iron Lady’ also reiterated the long-standing demand for repealing of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Acts (AFSPA), which she has termed as “draconian” and “against the very idea of democracy” that India is.
The 44-year-old activist broke down during the middle of the conference while recalling the Malon firing incident in Manipur in which allegedly 10 people were “gunned down” in a small town in Manipur in 2000, which prompted her to begin her fast that moved the entire nation. She was forcibly fed through a nasal tube since 2000 to keep her alive at a prison-turned-hospital.
The iconic activist, whose 16-year-old hunger strike ended in August, also suggested that “the Constitution should be amended regularly to suit the sentiments of the people.” “The Constitution should be amended regularly as we are a multi-cultural nation. And, we are different in appearance, geography, so the amendments must be done accordingly,” she said.
When asked to respond on the Indo-Pak situation post the surgical strike by the Army across the LoC, she said, “People and press have been asking me what was my feeling on the recent Indo-Pak situation, but I am fed up of it. I only have to say, aggression is not the answer, from either side. We have to negotiate to find peace.”
The press conference hosted by a alliance of several woman rights groups was also addressed by noted Supreme Court lawyer Vrinda Grover on the AFSPA issue said, “In this heightened time of jingoism, I must say that there should not be any immunity to Army and this law must be repealed.” Co-organiser of the press conference and woman rights activist Vani Subramanian said, “We jointly launched a campaign ‘Stand With Irom Sharmila: Repeal AFSPA’ in March and over 1,000 women activists, and professionals from top to grassroots level have endorsed this.”
“We soon plan to send this petition drawn up in the campaign to the President,” she said.
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