Irom Sharmila Chanu today refused to accept the 'security escort' provided to her by the state authorities under the direction of the Election Commission of India.
Sharmila told PTI that she has no enmity with anyone and has "nothing to fear about". The former iconic human rights figure said she does not approve of the "VIP culture" of being surrounded by armed forces and wants to be with the people. On the other hand, Additional Chief Secretary J Suresh Babu said, "The state authorities are doing their part as the ECI has directed them to provide security to Sharmila as she travels alone almost all the time."
Meanwhile, the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act -- the AFSPA -- is not the medicine for militancy and it is there to "extract resources" from Manipur, Irom Sharmila's party PRJA said.
To drive home the point, the Peoples' Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA) said that there were only four insurgent groups when the draconian AFSPA was introduced in Manipur in the 1980s and the number has gone up to 32 since. The PRJA, which was formed by Sharmila after she ended her 16-year-long hunger strike against the AFSPA in August last year, is making its electoral debut in this Assembly polls, fielding candidates in three of the state's 60 seats.
"The AFSPA is not about militancy and counter-insurgency. It is something beyond that. To deal with militancy and counter-insurgency, you may need laws and programmes but the AFSPA is not one of them. "In the 1980s when the AFSPA was introduced in Manipur, there were only four insurgent groups and in 2016 there were more than 32 groups reported... The AFSPA is not the medicine for militancy. It has clearly multiplied the disease. The AFSPA is there to extract resources from Manipur," PRJA convener Erendro Leichombam said in an email interview to PTI.