HYDERABAD: With the Armed Forces Special Protection Act (AFSPA) being a bone of contention between civil rights groups and the governments, 'Saving Sharmila' campaign might not be an easy objective. But, a five-member team of civil society representatives, who were in the city on Monday, have named their campaign in honour of the iron lady of Manipur, Irom Sharmila.
"We want to reach out to people and not just make repealing AFSPA a drawing room discussion," said Faisal Khan of National Alliance for People's Movement (NAPM), who is one of the delegates from the group. There are other civil society members who were attracted by the lone war waged by Irom Sharmila for over a decade and were inspired by her courage. "As a woman, I was inspired by the courage exhibited by Sharmila and felt that I should express solidarity with her," said Shahnaz Mallik who hails from Ahmedabad and runs a woman's empowerment group 'Armaan'.
The motto for this five-member group is to talk about AFSPA in states who do not know the fallout of the draconian law. "We do not believe that the state government is in anyway serious about removing AFSPA. It is only through mobilization of large public support that anything can happen," said Faisal Khan who hails from Kashmir.
The group, which is campaigning across 10 cities, also comprises of an ex-serviceman, Balwant Singh Yadav from Mandi, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha member, Amruth. The next stop for the campaigners is Cuttack. Their journey which began on November 23 will end on December 4 at Srinagar, after covering a distance of 7300 kilometres.
The cities on their itinerary include Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Cuttack, Raipur, Bhopal and Jaipur. A protest rally will be organized in New Delhi to conclude their journey where civil rights activists Aruna Roy and Medha Patkar will join the campaign.