Irom Sharmila Chanu
Participants participate in the sit-in-protest in support of Irom Sharmila Chanu, who is undergoing a fast unto death against the imposition of Arm Forces Special Power Act-1985 in Manipur and other parts of North Eastern parts of India..

In a bid to create nationwide awareness about the decade long fast launched by Manipuri social activist Irom Sharmila Chanu against the Arm Forces Special Power Act- 1958(AFSPA) silent protests were organized in Bangalore and New Delhi.

Around 200 people gathered at Bangalore's Cubbon Park to protest the Arm Forces Special Powers Act.

Demanding immediate withdrawal of AFSPA from Manipur and all parts of North-East, the protesters conducted a silent rally from Cubbon Park to Mayo Hall.

"Manipur and North-Eastern parts of India are the most neglected part of the country. The lives in Manipur are in miserable conditions due to the presence of armed forces," said the convener of the protest Bikram.

"The Arm Forces Special Powers Act-1958 is a reinvention of the Arm Forces Special Powers Ordinance that was implemented by British India during the 'Quit India Movement.' Is India, the largest democratic country in world still in need of a colonial law like Arm Forces Special Powers Ordinance to safeguard its own people?" asked the leader.

The 39-year- old social activist Sharmila, better known as "The Iron Lady of Manipur" has been on a fast unto death for the past 11 years to repeal AFSPA from Manipur and other parts of North-East.

Expressing their view about the present status of the Iron Lady's 11-year-long agitation, protesters have the opinion to create awareness among the people of India about Sharmila's decade-long fast.

"People in other parts of India are not aware about the issues in the entire North-East, and the causes of about the yearlong suffering victims of ARSPA, which empowers the arm forces to kill any person on mere suspesion in Manipur," said Keisham Nongpokngamba, a TCS employee who was present in the rally.

"Mainstream national media never highlight the issues of North-East and the cause of Sharmila as they did to Anna Hazare," he added identifying the role of media in propagating the cause of the Iron Lady.

Apart from the north eastern people, some supports of the iron Lady from other parts of the country also participated in the rally.

"The issue of arm forces and Sharmila's demand to repeal the AFSPA-1958 deserve a talk on the table," said Tejas Pandit, a Gujarati who participate in the rally.

Meanwhile, a Manipuri social activist forum organized a candle rally in New Delhi demanding the withdrawal of AFSPA and to save democracy.

According to organizers, the candle rally from GTB Nagar to Delhi University campus, which was attended by around 300 people from different parts of the country, was organized by "Save Democracy and Repeal AFAPA".

Sharmila has been on hunger strike since Nov. 2, 2000, in protest against the Malom Massacre in which 10 civilians, including a 1988 National Child Bravery Award winner, Sinam Chandramani (18), were allegedly killed by the Assam Rifles.

The Armed Forces Special Power Act-1985 empowers the army and paramilitary forces to shoot or arrest on mere suspicion in these "disturbed areas" of Northeast and in some parts of Jammu and Kashmir.

The 39-year-old activist is currently in judicial custody at Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College in Imphal, the capital of Manipur. The Indian state has kept her alive on a cocktail of vitamins and nutrients. She is force-fed twice a day through (nasogastric intubation) her nose.