Manipur rights activist gets 100,000 dollar Tagore Peace Prize

Imphal (Manipur), Sept.12: Irom Sharmila Chanu, a human rights activist who has been on a hunger strike for a decade, has been presented with the Rabindranath Tagore Peace Prize, worth 100,000 dollars by a private-run educational institute.

The Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM) conferred the award on Sharmila in recognition of her struggle to repeal the terror act in insurgency-hit Manipur.

"If I have to say and give comment in this regard, let me say that when they are talking about amending the (Armed Forces Special Powers) Act without considering my ten years of hunger strike, without taking a drop of water and food, thereby forcing me with artificial feed, and if my demand for repealing the Act is being considered as getting the moon with my hands, if that's how they feel, then let me be in my present state and end as God's desire," said Sharmila, after receiving the award at an Imphal hospital where she is admitted.

"We are always very proud of a woman like Sharmila, her protest is very sincere, very determined and courageous. She is an example for all of us in India and we are privileged that we have the opportunity to hand over the award to her," added Malay K. Chaudhuri, Director of IIPM, which has 18 branches and is headquartered in New Delhi.

Irom Sharmila, also known as the Iron Lady of Manipur, is demanding repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) which gives troops sweeping powers to kill suspected rebels and immunity from prosecution. The 1958 law applies only in Indian Kashmir and the insurgency-affected northeast.

Sharmila, who is in her late thirties, began her strike after soldiers shot dead 10 young men in a small town in Manipur in October 2000.

She has since then been on a fast and has refused to end her hunger strike after which food has been forcibly given to her through the nasal tract by authorities.

Copyright Asian News International/