IMPHAL, March 1 – Social activists of Kerala who visited Manipur iron lady Irom Chanu Sharmila on Wednesday said that they would urge Union Defence Minister AK Anthony to remove Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958 from Manipur.
“We will speak in Malayalam to him (AK Antony) for repeal of AFSPA,” said MN Giri, president of Kerala-based Social Association for Forest and Environment (SAFE). He was leading the Kerala delegation who visited Sharmila. Defence Minister Anthony is an MP from Kerala.
The delegation from Mayilamma Foundation also felicitated Sharmila, who has been on a fast unto death campaign since November 2000 demanding repeal of the AFSPA, by presenting the Mayilamma Award 2009 to her.
Representatives of various other organisations such as SAFE, National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM) of Delhi and UP, Asha Parivar of Gujarat and London-based Angrda Foundation were also present at the meeting.
Mayilamma Foundation spokesperson Ramdas Kadiru said, “We are giving the award to Sharmila for achievement of her nonviolent struggle in Manipur.”
A vocal and passionate exponent against AFSPA as well as poetess, Sharmila received the award in silence with tears.
The Mayilamma Award is given in memory of Kerala Adivasi social activist Mayilamma, who founded the Coca-Cola Virudha Samara Samiti (Anti Coca-Cola Struggle Committee) in Plachimada to spearhead the campaign to hold Coca-Cola accountable for water shortages and pollution in the area.