A Meal for Sharmila

Irom Sharmila said that she has not had a drop of water for the last fourteen years. The hunger striker in her maiden press conference at Manipur Press Club was

Irom Sharmila said that she has not had a drop of water for the last fourteen years. The hunger striker in her maiden press conference at Manipur Press Club was a poignant affair. Teary eyed, she mentioned that she yearns to have a meal, as the only taste she had known was of her own saliva.

In one’s normal routine, the day begins with breakfast and after having lunch, we come out for the day’s work. As we burn calories, our metabolism demands replenishment every now and then. After all, who has not experienced the pangs of hunger ! When Sharmila came to the press club, she looked exhausted. The activists accompanying her also mentioned of the stress she has undergone since her release and even appealed to the media to refrain from asking too many questions. It is hospitable routine to offer someone a drink of water if the person looks exhausted, and the first thought that came was to offer her a glass of water. But, it dawned that to offer such hospitality would be sacrilege, despite the heart wishing to offer her respite.

She had her moment with the media but in the course, her statement of wanting to have a meal tugged at the heart. Her cry that the public needs to wake up and see the demon, to face it and to emerge victorious cut across the corners of the room. She mentioned of not being a martyr nor being a leader, but just simply demanding the right to life in form of non-violent protest.

A complete sense of emasculation pervaded! A sense of being a non-entity and inability to aid her crept in, for someone who has been fasting for 14 years so that we could live without the fear of the demon. What could be done and what can one do, for her and for ourselves ? One cannot muster up the courage to stand alongside her and join in her fast. But her appeal to the masses to aid her in removing AFSPA still resonates clearly!

The present situation before her so called release is a series of protests for implementation of the Inner Line Permit system which is still ongoing. The agitations of students, meira paibis, local clubs led by civil organizations was the top issue and much pressure was put to the government. However, the news of Sharmila’s so called ‘release’ again came to the forefront and the headlines are of her again. In the matter, what short of a release is 24 hours ? It seems a cruel jest from the judiciary or otherwise to toy with the liberty of a living icon. Now, the various leaders of civil bodies swore to stand by her and to pursue the fight against AFSPA. With the way things are, the question is, are we supposed to demand for the ILP system or to show solidarity to Sharmila against AFSPA ?

When queried to Sharmila about how she wants the public to reciprocate, it was mentioned that the two issues can be clubbed together and protest can be held jointly. It is not within one’s ambit to decide or suggest the measures needed to bring about a resolve in this regard. But, Sharmila had also mentioned that the public needs to decide for themselves while quipping in that AFSPA robs one of the right to life.

This act has been implemented for such a time and so many atrocities perpetrated that perhaps the public has become accustomed to the demon. The lethargy has become part of our system and perhaps we feel that the writing on the wall is meant for the other person.

The present state of affairs and the petrol pumps closing down, the unavailability of fuel seems to be what the public seems to be actually concerned about. It is time that the social activists chalk out a plan to rally for the AFSPA cause, as with Sharmila once again in prison, the AFSPA protest may vaporize like it has this last fourteen years. Let us at least try to feed her a meal.

Leader Writer: Paojel Chaoba

Read more / Original news source: http://kanglaonline.com/2014/08/a-meal-for-sharmila/

‘Iron Lady’ Sharmila re-arrested, Women furious over police action which left Sharmila with a broken and bleeding toe

IMPHAL, August 22: Barely three days after her release, Irom Chanu Sharmila was rearrested under IPC 309 charging her of attempting suicide and a case has been registered against her

Sharmila rearrested

IMPHAL, August 22: Barely three days after her release, Irom Chanu Sharmila was rearrested under IPC 309 charging her of attempting suicide and a case has been registered against her under FIR no 242(8)2014 Porompat PS.

Ironically, the anti Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act crusader was released earlier on August 20, after Sessions Judge, Manipur East A Guneshwar Sharma quashed all charges against her of attempting suicide.

Imphal East police along with doctors had repeatedly tried to check her condition yesterday till late in the night, which Sharmila has been refusing.

The police had ever since remained present in the vicinity of the Sharmila Kanba Lup, SAKAL shanglen where the Sharmila had been continuing with her fast following her release.

This morning around 10am, a police team including lady constables led by Porompat SDPO arrived at the temporary shed along with a medical team.

When Sharmila refused to their attempt to check her health status, the women constable rushed into the shed and forced themselves to pick up the hunger striker.

A tussle broke out between Sharmila, her supporters and the women constables trying to pick her which continued for about five minutes.

The rough tackle of the police women left Sharmila with a broken and bleeding toe.

She was eventually overpowered and pulled into the police gypsy and taken to the nearby Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences, where her broken toe was attended to.

Fuming over the manner, the police women handled Sharmila, SHAKAL members stormed into the JNIMS campus and demanded a meeting with Sharmila.

A few members were allowed to meet her inside the JNIMS security ward, where Sharmila has been lodged following her arrest.

After the meeting, later, at the temporary shed, Apunba Manipur Kanba Ima Lup (AMKIL) president Ph Sakhi said Sharmila was in tears and speechless.

The more the SHAKAL members tried to console, the more she cried, she lamented stating that they strongly condemn the police action.

Read more / Original news source: http://kanglaonline.com/2014/08/iron-lady-sharmila-re-arrested-women-furious-over-police-action-which-left-sharmila-with-a-broken-and-bleeding-toe/


By: Seram Neken “If Irom Chanu Sharmila fasted for corruption and if Septuagenarian Anna Hazare protested against AFSPA, the matters would have been different. If Sharmila hails from mainland India… Read more »

By: Seram Neken

“If Irom Chanu Sharmila fasted for corruption and if Septuagenarian Anna Hazare protested against AFSPA, the matters would have been different. If Sharmila hails from mainland India and if Hazare is a native of Manipur, the vice versa of what is being strongly addressed by the government might have happened. This time, Sharmila expressed her whole-hearted moral support to Anna Hazare’s protest following the latter’s invitation. Had the invitation for joining the protest come from Sharmila to Anna Hazare, would the latter have responded readily ? ”

Great personalities are created where there is respect for human values. The dignity the British attached to Gandhiji as a freedom fighter helped him gain the fame worldwide and glorify his non-violence. Had MK Gandhi been born in a place like Manipur or had he undergone his protests against a government such as that of today’s Manipur, Gandhijis non-violence would not have gained its fame and he would not have been recognized as the father of the nation. Indifference of the rulers might have jeopardized his cause half-way or he might have ended his life in the bullets of mindless security people of this land.

The strikers whom politicians, media persons and the intellectuals are attentive to or glorify most, are considered as strong revolutionaries fighting for the people’s cause. If Irom Chanu Sharmila fasted for corruption and if Septuagenarian Anna Hazare protested against AFSPA, the matters would have been different. If Sharmila hails from mainland India and if Hazare is a native of Manipur, the vice versa of what is being addressed by the government might have happened. Let us examine the importance of the two causes between corruption and human rights, and let us compare the personalities of Sharmila and Hazare. Personality cult seems to out-do the issues. Sharmila has readily extended her support to the cause of Hazare’s protest following the latter’s invitation to join him. However, the nation has not responded to the call of Irom Chanu Sharmila for over ten years.

Sharmila has now become a symbol of peace, in the true sense of the term. She has earned the reputation of having the strongest will and heart for protection of human rights around the globe. She is not a mere striker, but a model of truth and justice. Gandhijis non-violence has been glorified by her personality in the twenty first century. It is not politically motivated and her demands represent the general will of the hapless people residing amidst the draconian laws of democratic India. In spite of neglects and indifference of the rulers for more than a decade, she never goes back. It is natural that Anna Hazare invited Sharmila to join his crusade against corruption. It is more natural that the Iron Lady expressed her moral support to the cause, but declined to join the fast in New Delhi for the Hazare cause. She rather blamed the nation for its indifference to the cause of human right violations.

The national media is highly discriminatory as did the government and political parties at the national level in regard to the dual cases of Sharmila and Hazare. Both strikers have been fighting for the social good, both have been following the non-violent means of fasting. However, Sharmila has almost crossed a decade of fasting, while Hazare’s appearance on the scene is quite recent as compared to the former. However, the national media have been disproportionately viewing the two protests. Intensity of the protests and the causes themselves have to be considered in balance while reporting to the people and drawing government’s attention.

Meanwhile, Dr. Manmohan Singh has written a nice letter to the septuagenarian protester with the highest concern for the latter’s health. In the letter, the Prime Minister says : “Over the last few days, I have watched with increasing concern of your health. Despite the differences between the government and your team, I don’t think that anybody is or should be in any doubt about the deep and abiding concern  which I and our government share about your health, arising from your continuing fast. I have no hesitation in saying that we need your views and actions in the service of the nation, from a robust physical condition and not in the context of frail and failing health……..” The emotional care of the leader of the nation towards a Gandhian as shown in the letter is indeed envious and courteous, and highly expected of a leadership where the father of the nation was born. It is really lamentable that during the last more than a decade of Sharmila’s fasting, not a single courtesy of such kind has been exhibited towards her from the end of a nation’s leadership. Barring independent writers, political motivators and select media personalities, the nation has been keeping mum on her cause and protest. Now that Anna Hazare and his cause have gained widespread media coverage and government attention in a comparatively short duration, has reflected some kind of nostalgia in the hearts of the so called Indian citizens residing in the far border hilly state of Manipur. Let us uphold human rights while fighting against corruption at all levels.

(The writer is a freelance journalist)

The article was sent to Kanglaonline.com by Seram Neken.

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Read more / Original news source: http://kanglaonline.com/2011/08/had-gandhiji-been-born-in-the-land-of-sharmila-%E2%80%A6/

Ramadhan: A Meaning of this Holy Month

By: Abdul Ghaffar “Ramadhan is the month in which was sent down the Qur’an, as a guide to mankind, also clear signs for guidance and judgment between right and wrong…. Read more »

By: Abdul Ghaffar

“Ramadhan is the month in which was sent down the Qur’an, as a guide to mankind, also clear signs for guidance and judgment between right and wrong. So every one of you who is present at his home during that month should spend it in fasting, but, if anyone is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period should be made up by days later. God intends every facility for you; He does not want to put you to difficulties. He wants you to complete the prescribed period and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful”
(Holy Qur’an 2:185).
Once again we welcome it, once again it welcomes us. Ramadhan-a month of obligatory daily fasting in Islam is the ninth in the Islamic lunar calendar. For the entire month, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, an act that brings joy and contentment to every Muslim who experiences the practice. But fasting as such is a human phenomenon, which is noticeable in all religions. Allah says in Qur’an:
?”O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become pious” (Holy Quran 2:183).

Ramadhan is not only to abstain from food, drink, smoking, and marital sex (up to sunset) but also to abstain from arguing, lying, backbiting, cursing, fighting, obscenity and all kinds of immoral acts. This is a month of return, introspection, mediation, brotherhood and love. This month provides an opportunity for the creature (Human) to get closer to his Creator (God). This is a month of when a Muslim tries to: see not what displeases God, speak no evil, hear no evil, do no evil, look to God with fear and hope. Ramadhan is supposed to be a time of giving and giving up, a time to feel closer-physically closer by fasting-to the tribulations and hunger that the poor feel all the year. It is a time to deny oneself, for one’s own good and the good of others. It is a time of deeper prayer and reflection.
The Prophet Mohammad (blessings and peace be upon him) said,
“If, during Ramadhan, someone does not refrain from backbiting, lying, slandering, arguing, or fighting with someone, the Allah is not interested in his keeping himself hungry and thirsty. And be certain that a Muslim is one from whose hand and tongue other people are safe (Hakim 2003).

And he further said, “there are many a Muslim man or woman who obtains nothing from Ramadhan except an empty belly and a dry mouth” (Hakim 2003), meaning the whole point of fasting was missed. In other words, there is a great difference between fasting and merely keeping oneself hungry- something essential to understand.
A Meaning of this Month
The month of Ramadhan is the ‘month of the Meaning.’ It is a quest for finding a meaning in our own self and the world. Why this life? What about God in my life? What about my mother and my father, still alive or already gone? What about my children? My family? My community? Why this universe and this humanity? What meaning have I given to my daily life? What meaning am I able to be consistent with?
The Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) had warned, ‘Some people only gain from their fast the fact that they are hungry and thirsty.’ He was speaking of those who fast as mechanically as they eat. They deprive themselves from eating with the same unawareness and the same thoughtlessness as they are used to eating and drinking. In fact, they transform it into a cultural tradition, a fashionable celebration, even a month of banquets and ‘Ramadhan nights.’ This is fast of extreme alienation and counter-meaning. As this month invites us towards the deep horizons of introspection and meaning, it reminds us of the importance of detail, precision and discipline in our practice. The precise starting day of Ramadhan that must be rigorously found; the precise hour before dawn on which one must stop eating; the prayers to be performed ‘at determined moments,’ the exact time of breaking the fast. At the very time of our profound meditation with God and in our own self, one could have thought that it was possible to immerse oneself into one’s feelings because this quest for meaning is so deep that it should be allowed to bypass the details of rules and schedules. But the actual experience of Ramadhan teaches us the opposite: no profound spirituality, no true quest of meaning without discipline and rigor as to the management of rules to be respected and time to be mastered.
An Invitation to Self-Transformation
The abrupt change implied by the fast is an invitation to a transformation and a profound reform of oneself and one’s life that can only occur through a rigorous intellectual introspection (muhasaba). To achieve the ultimate goal of the fast our faith requires a demanding, lucid, sincere, and honest mind capable of sane self-criticism. Everyone should be able to that for oneself, before God, within one’s solitude. The month of Ramadhan calls Muslim to their dignity as well as to their responsibilities. It is imperative that they make it a rule for themselves to be rigorous and upright in the assessment of their conduct, individuality and collectively: self-criticism and collective introspection are of the essence at every step, to achieve a true transformation within Muslim communities and societies.
Instead of blaming ‘those who dominate,’ ‘the other,’ ‘the West,’ etc. it is necessary to make ourselves follow the teaching of the month of Ramadhan: you are indeed what you do of yourself. What are we doing of ourselves today? What are our contributions within the fields of education, social justice and liberty? What are we doing to promote the dignity of women and children or to protect the rights of the poor and marginalized people in our societies?
What kind of models of profound, intelligent and active spirituality do we offer today to the people around us? What have we done with our universal message of justice and peace? What have we done our message of individual responsibility, of human brotherhood and love? All these questions are in our hearts and minds and there is only one response inspired by the Qur’an and nurtured by the month of Ramadhan: God will change nothing for the good if you change nothing. The objective of Ramadhan is to attain Taqwa.
“O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may attain Taqwa” (Holy Qur’an 2:183).
What is Taqwa?
Hazrat ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “A person with the quality of Taqwa is like a person walking withn caution on a thorny road. The way he would take care to save his clothes from getting entangled in the thorns, so is a person with Taqwa conscious of every action he does (for fear of falling into wrong)” (IECRC 2005).
Taqwa is a way of living where God is always invoked and on one’s mind where one thinks twice before doing any wrong because one knows that He is watching, though no one else may be in sight; and where one develops such a strong will-power that acts of goodness flow from one’s hands as second-nature impulses, where the overflowing of hearts is greater than the deliberation and rationalization of intellects. The Prophet Mohammad (blessings and peace be upon him), it is said, was usually very generous and in Ramadhan was “more generous than the blowing wind,” a common Arab saying.
Ramadhan, in this sense, helps to develop character traits such as patience, gratitude, contentment, humility, generosity, heightened consciousness, purity, and other qualities. By the end of Ramadhan, a Muslims should be a better human, and that much closer to what is possible of human production, if such a thing can be imagined. Suffice it to say that Ramadhan is meant to train one to realize that ideal in one’s day-to-day life.
Few Suggestions
It is not a time to get fat and sleep the day away. That is a travesty of the spirit of the Holy Month.
Here are a few suggestions that we can look into:
Let us invite our friends and neighbours to join us in the breaking of our fasts (Iftar).
Let us donate generously to the Masjid, Islamic causes, worthy causes and everywhere people are in need. ‘This is a month of sharing!’
Let us initiate a project to promote or revive a ‘forgotten’ social cause in the community: fight against communalism, racism, social evils, obscenity, drugs, smoking…etc.
Let us seek the rare and oft-neglected rewards of ‘the night better than a thousand months,’ Laylatur-Qadr.
Let us weep in private for the forgiveness of our sins: It is the month of forgiveness and Allah’s Mercy! It’s never too late.
Let us learn to control our tongue and lower our gaze. Remember the Prophet’s warning that lying, backbiting, and a lustful gaze all violate the fast! Abandon foul language forever.
Let us experience the joy of Tahajjud prayers late at night and devote ourselves purely and fully to Allah in the I’tikaf retreat during the last 10 days of Ramadhan.
Let us encourage our younger ones to offer taraweeh prayers with us at the mosque.
Let us ensure that we mend our relations with everyone regardless of the mistakes on the part of others.
Let us ensure that we offer Zakat ul Fitr ahead of Eid prayers so that the poor and the needy can make use of it in an appropriate manner.
Each of us can develop an individual plan to benefit from and we all can do something to earn some additional grace from God, the Almighty. May this Ramadhan be a time of true fasting, of deeper prayer and real identity with the poor whose plight will not change when the day of Eid comes. To conclude, the Prophet Mohammad (blessings and peace be upon him) reported whoever fasts in Ramadhan with faith and seeking pleasure of Allah, his past sins are forgiven.

Abdul Ghaffar is a researcher in Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and have presented and published many articles on national and international issues including about Manipur in national journals.

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Read more / Original news source: http://kanglaonline.com/2011/08/ramadhan-a-meaning-of-this-holy-month/