Irom Sharmila wants to meet mother

Written by: Pti
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Irom Sharmila
Imphal, Sept 28: 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 Till the AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) is withdrawn, she will remain on strike and we will not meet," Shakhi Devi, her mother, told PTI here.

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 dont 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 asthma attack. 

"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 any argument.

"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 years.


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