If For Anna, Why Not For Irom?

Posted on March 26, 2012 in Politics at Play

By Ankur:

Unity can do wonders, it surely can. Not a long ago, we witnessed an example of unity where we all stood up for Mr. Anna Hazare in his fight to eradicate corruption out of the country. A strong initiative against corruption was indeed a very brave and a wonderful moment. The campaign was led by Anna Hazare and each and every one of us supported the campaign. The campaign witnessed massive support for Hazare in his pursuit of demanding a corruption free country. The response regarding the passing of bill was indeed incredible and massive. Each one of us spoke about it, educating ourselves with each and every bit of news, spreading and creating awareness about the same through e-mails, messages and through every possible source. Hazare decided to go for an Anshan (Fast) for a week as the government refused to accept the conditions laid down for the passing of the. This made news and sparked the anger among the masses and it took very little time for the people to get on the roads and soon started protesting and conducting several rallies in huge number to stand strong with Anna and against the Government. It was incredible to witness the heartening and wonderful efforts of the people, not only from a concentrated region but from each and every corner of the country. The government at that moment could do nothing but to accept the conditions (up to certain extent) laid down.

Now let’s talk about a similar campaign, this time against violence and corruption, initiated by Irom Sharmila Chanu, known as the Iron lady of Manipur. She has been fighting injustice and violence for the past 11 years. The fight is continued along-with an 11 year long fast. Yes, you have to believe this.11 long years and the struggle goes on and on. Irom’s fight is against the AFSPA (the military force operating in North East).

Her primary demand to the government is to repeal the AFSPA, which allowed the soldiers to indefinitely detain any citizen on suspicion of being a rebel, a total injustice against the people. Three days after Irom started her strike against AFSPA, she was arrested by the police against the charge to “attempt to commit suicide”. Her health has deteriorated since and she has been under custody. The government never paid heed to this issue and the voices of the people of Manipur are still unheard. But it’s really perplexing regarding the attitude of the government against Irom. Not only the government, but the people’s attitude too is very ambiguous. On one hand there was immense support for Anna Hazare, and on the other hand a totally different and ignorant attitude towards Irom Sharmila Chanu. Although the government hasn’t surprised much with its attitude, but the attitude of the common people is indeed saddening. No real means of support and attention has been observed towards this strong and bold woman. It’s not an issue anymore, it’s just news. It never was. Also known to be the strongest force, the media has also turned a blind eye. The people and the support has diminished altogether. Two very similar campaigns and a totally disinterested behaviour towards the latter one. Why such an indifferent attitude towards this woman? Is it only because this issue (now mere news) did not occur in a city like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore or any other metropolitan city? Or just because the media does not consider it worthy of attention?

We all stood up for Anna Hazare and acted strongly, then why not stand up for this strong lady? We have always yearned for a perfect nation, then why not act upon it? This Lady needs nothing but the support which can still do wonders for the country. No act of rebellion is small, and this lady is truly and certainly a respectable figure for all of us. We are the ones who need to initiate the change for a better tomorrow. It’s time we re-ignite the strength and spark and help Irom achieve justice in real terms. Irom’s effort are totally altruist and are directed towards those who have fallen victim to the pro-longing injustice and violence in Manipur. It is time that we re-unite and help Irom in her long fight against violence and injustice. Not to forget the media, it was, it is and will always be the ‘strongest’ means in pursuit of any fight.

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I think there’s no point in comparing Anna’s movement with that of Irom. While you call Anna’s movement a success many of leading analysts, journalists and politicians have called it also one on a very tiny scale, of no practical significance etc. Unfortunately due to complex nature of our democracy and 1000s of survival related problems happening around us 24×7, even the Anna movement has lost its steam, efficacy and grip on media, people’s mind etc.

As you rightly said that Irom’s movement is going on for 11 years and nobody cared to read or write about it, including this website before Anna’s movement. So my inference from the same premise is absolutely opposite and bit more optimistic. I feel Anna’s movement has bought to lime-light several non-profits, several ordinary citizens fighting for their rights, on a regional basis.

Arvind Kejriwal was bestowed with Magsaysay Award several years ago. They realized and appreciated his contribution long before his Alma matter or NDTV etc honored him for his work, commitment, dedication.

This article would have been much more relevant and useful if it focused on work of Irom Sharmila, what’s her cause, whats the relevance of that cause for ordinary citizens in their day to day lives, whats the relevance of that cause under extra-ordinary circumstances etc.

Before Anna’s current movement too Anna or Arinvd Kejriwal or Megha Patekar etc have made government agree to their demands, which were right, pertinent and contextual. Its bit unfair on part of Irom Sharmila also to write-off Anna’s movement or request PM to treat her like Anna.

Comparing two social activists, two movements for two absolutely difference causes, is a completely futile activity, more or less like comparing Apples with Sweet Potatoes !!


    I am not trying to demean Anna’s campaign or trying to say that Anna got impetus in a biased way. All I am trying to say is when campaign’s like Anna’s can gain so much of importance, why not Irom’s campaign. Again, if you read the article carefully, which I think you did, I have clearly mentioned that the only reason to ignore Irom is just because it is in Manipur and not in any metropolitan city. But I really appreciate your comments. Thank you.

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