Mumbai: Whoever said that Bollywood actors can only take their shirt off can bite dust, for here’s an actor who’s all support to the burning issue of Irom Chanu Sharmila’s hunger strike. Thinking actor Abhay Deol has stood for Sharmila’s cause which he thinks stands ignored even as other crusaders hog limelight.
The ‘Iron Lady of Manipur’ on fast for over 10 years now, and who has been called ‘the world`s longest hunger striker’ is demanding that the Indian government repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) from Manipur.
Abhay is surprised by the government and media’s indifference to Irom’s stance. “Are we waiting for another martyr like Swami Nigamananda?” says Abhay drawing comparisons between Irom and the lone sadhu crusader who died after a 114-day hunger strike in Haridwar, demanding immediate stopping of quarrying in the river Ganga.
Abhay pointed out that while Baba Ramdev or Anna Hazare makes headlines, Irom Sharmila has been sidelined.
Abhay feels that the media too, tends to go overboard with certain news-making topics. “I think you guys (media) should pump up her cause too, instead of focusing only on one subject,” said Abhay.
The actor astonishingly claimed that a portion of his interview about Irom’s case was edited out of a TV interview. Reason he said “because the government wouldn’t have liked it. I think we have to really get rid of the fear psychosis.”
On asking has he ever tried to meet Irom, Junior Deol said, “It’s very difficult to meet her because of the complexities of her case. But if, as an actor, I can make people aware about her cause, I’ll be most happy. Many feel that an actor can only take his shirt off, which is very unfortunate. I have been trying to speak about this issue as much as I can.”
According to Abhay, AFSPA has been “used and misused” repeatedly in Manipur. “Even the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called it a draconian law. So, why can’t it be looked into? Do we want a renewed round of insurgency in the state? If not, steps must be taken now to keep things under control,” he warned.