Burning of The Telegraph copies
Members of Apunba Lup burns The Telegraph copies in protest against a report on the personal life of human rights icon Irom Sharmila Chanu who has been fast for the last 10 years.

A report on the personal life of Irom Sharmila Chanu better known as Iron Lady of Manipur by The Telegraph irked the people of Manipur.

Provoked by the news reports of The Telegraph, "Kolkata Apunba Lup" a conglomerate citizens' body imposed an indefinite ban on the circulation of the daily in Manipur, reported The Imphal Free Press.

The uproar came after the Telegraph carried a news report on Sharmila's affair with an NRI.

"The man I love is waiting for me impatiently. He came here to meet me but my supporters refused that idea," the newspaper quoted Sharmila, who is force-fed by the government through a nose tube, as saying.

Telegraph reported that the longest hunger striker in the world, Irom Sharmila fell in love with Desmond Coutinho, a 48-year-old writer and activist who met her in March this year after a year-long exchange of handwritten letters that Sharmila carefully keeps in a cardboard box by her bedside.

When Desmond arrived in Imphal in February Sharmila's supporters were probably put off by his disheveled appearance and talk about human rights, including his and Sharmila's.

He had to wait for some time before the activists would relent and allow the meeting. Ironically, it was a two-day protest fast by Desmond that clinched it.

"At first they (her supporters) insulted him and threatened him. They don't like to appreciate our relationship. They are also very possessive, very mean, very one-sided," she added without a trace of bitterness in her tone, the daily quoted playfully.

The report further said that "it was Desmond's soulful letters and thoughts that made her fall in love with him. For a year, they kept in touch through letters, mostly written by the spiritual experimenter who has alternately delved into Christian evangelism and Buddhist Vipasana."

Terming the report as "high level conspiracy" to dilute the cause of  Sharmila and her struggle to repeal Arm Forces Special Power Act-1958 shouted "Telegraph Boycott".

"We have decided to burn copies of The Telegraph and also impose a ban on circulation of the paper in Manipur indefinitely with immediate effect," said assistant coordinator of the Apunba Lup Elangbam Johnson, at the press conference held at Manipur Press Club Wednesday afternoon.

"The ban would continue until a responsible editor of The Telegraph comes to Imphal and tender an apology to the people of Manipur," he added.

 "The report smacked of an agenda pushed through Centre and Manipur government to insult not only Sharmila, but also the entire people of Manipur," said coordinator of the Apunba Lup Langdon Ayekpam.

Expressing the report on Sharmila's personal life in the front page of the paper instead of highlighting her cause and struggle other the citizens' forum termed it as an "unfortunate for Manipur and Sharmila".

The citizens' forum has also appealed to national media to be sensitive while reporting issues concerning Manipur.

Meanwhile, volunteers of the Keishamthong Kendra Humanitarian Development Committee also burnt The Telegraph copies at the Keishampat bazaar, Imphal West Wednesday afternoon.

"No national media highlighted her 11-year-long struggle. So the Telegraph report has an ulterior motive to destruct her struggle at a time when Anna Hazare is preparing to join Sharmila's cause," pointed out chief patron of the forum R. K. Sivachandra.

She has been on her fast unto death demanding the repeal of so called draconian law Armed ForcesSpecial Power Act-1958 (AFSPA-1985)that 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. Since she began her fast unto death, police arrested her under section 309 of the Indian Penal Code "attempt to suicide".

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.

Profile of Irom Sharmila Chanu

Name- Irom Sharmila Chanu (Iron Lady Of Manipur )

DOB- March 14, 1972

Irom Sharmila Chanu
Irom Sharmila, 34, who has been on hunger strike for six years against human rights abuses in the northeastern state of Manipur.

Birth Place- Kongpal, Imphal, Manipur, India

Designation- Civil rights activist

Agitation style- Non-Violence

Inception- 2 Nov. 2000

Cause- AFSPA-1958

Demand- Repeal AFSPA-1958

Centers attention- not sure

International acclamation-

Nominated to 2005 Nobel Peace Prize by The North East Network

Recipient of Gwangju Prize for Human Rights

Rabindranath Tagore Peace Prize

Sarva Gunah Sampannah '" Award for Peace and Harmony

Adivasi Ratna award

Works on her-

'Burning Bright': Irom Sharmila and the Struggle for Peace in Manipur by Deepti Priya Mehrotra published by Penguin Books India.

Short documentary 'My Body My Weapon' by Kavita Joshi.

A mono-play titled 'Le Mashale' (Take the torch) by Pune based theatre artist group Ojas S V.


'Save Sharmila Campaign' jointly launched by network of civil societies NAPM, Gandhi Global Family, Asha  Parivar, Jagriti Mahila Samiti, Yuva Koshish, Asian Centre of Social Studies and Mission Bhartiyam.

Interest- Poetry.