Imphal: Eleven years after she started
her indefinite hunger strike, Manipur’s Iron Lady Irom Chanu
Sharmila has for the first time expressed a desire to meet her
mother, who, however, refused to oblige till her daughter’s
mission is accomplished.
This is not the right time to meet as the issue has
not yet been resolved. Till the AFSPA (Armed Forces Special
Powers Act) is withdrawn, she will remain on strike and we
will not meet, Shakhi Devi, her mother said.
Citing sentimental reasons, the 78-year-old said she
apprehends that Sharmila’s strength and courage to continue
her lone battle isolated from the rest of the world might
weaken with an emotionally-charged mother-daughter reunion.
I don’t want her to be weak in this fight. She needs
continuous courage to go on, Shakhi said.
After Sharmila began her fast on November 5, 2000, she
declared that she would not see her mother as long as she was
on her fast to avoid any emotional entanglement.
Although living only a few meters away from each
other, the duo has since then seen each other only once when
Shakhi was admitted to the Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital where
incidentally the nasally-fed Sharmila has also been kept under
detention by the police for attempt to suicide.
Sharmila’s elder brother Irom Singhajit recalls the
2009 episode when their mother had slipped into coma after an
Sharmila feared death and so she managed to sneak
into her mother’s ward in the same hospital at midnight. When
she came very close to the mother’s face, suddenly she was in
her senses. But our mother ordered her to go back
immediately, he said.
Sharmila left the place like an obedient child without
Come to me after winning. I am waiting for that
moment when you will come home and cook food for me,
Singhajit quoted their mother as having told his sister.
However, a few days ago Sharmila passed on a message
to Anandi, managing trustee of the Just Peace Foundation, that
she wants to meet her mom now.
Members of the foundation and her brother have applied
for permission from the state government to meet her at the
high-security prison ward of the hospital.
In recent media interviews, she had expressed the
desire to marry British citizen Desmond Coutinho whenever she
ends her fast.
A lot has been happening these days in her life. We
need to discuss all that with her. With hardly any visitors
allowed, she is living in a near-isolated situation, said
Babloo Loitongbam, her associate.
If granted the permission, they will also try to
persuade the mother to meet Sharmila as per her wishes.
Even his brother has avoided meeting her since the last 2-3