Irom Chanu Sharmila (born 14 March 1972), also known as the “Iron Lady” or “Mengoubi” (“the fair one“) is a civil rights activist, political activist, and poet from Manipur. On 2 November 2000, she began a hunger strike which she ended on 9 August 2016, after 16 years of fasting. Having refused food and water for more than 500 weeks, she has been called “the world’s longest hunger striker”. On International Women’s Day, 2014 she was voted the top woman icon of India by MSN Poll.
“I didn’t question my decision, to go on a hunger strike. That’s why I could do it for 16 years.” – Irom Sharmila.
“One should change to bring about a change.” – Irom Sharmila.
Source: Hindustan Times
“People did not know why I quit my hunger strike, they thought Sharmila diverted from her struggle. I explain to people that I have just changed the strategy but the struggle is the same.” – Irom Sharmila.
Source: Daily Hunt
“Those who agree with me can join me. Those who don’t agree with me, just release me.” – Irom Sharmila.
“My love is conditional. I cannot deviate from my first love — Manipur and her people. I will go away for love only if the people abandon me, or absolutely ignore me.” – Irom Sharmila.
“If I was the Prime Minister, I would just say, people should just cool down.” – Irom Sharmila.
“The Constitution should be amended regularly as we are a multi-cultural nation. And, we are different in appearance, geography, so the amendments must be done accordingly.” – Irom Sharmila
Source: Indian Express
“My struggle is my message to the people.” – Irom Sharmila.
“I have not even brushed my teeth for over four years. But the difference is I feel good about what I am doing. It makes me proud of what I am doing but I do have the desire to live in this world – since I am human, I too want to live in this world filled with pleasure.” – Irom Sharmila.
Source: The Quint
“When I started my fast, in 2000, it was my sole decision. I had not even informed even my mother. I just told her I needed to get her blessings for something important I wanted to do. The expectations that a section of the (Manipuri) public has — that I should continue my fast — is flawed. They made me the only face of the fight against AFSPA. They put me on a pedestal, made me an icon. They forgot that I was human, that I had expectations. All these years I waited for a mass movement, where people would join me in the fight against AFSPA. I did get solidarity messages and public (acknowledgement) every time I was released on an annual basis but the momentum was not there. The solidarity was not enough. The iconhood was thrust on me. It was never of my own making. The decision to break my fast was partly influenced by my discomfort and discontent over this mantle that had been put on me. I am human and have every right to take my own decisions. That’s exactly what I have done.” – Irom Sharmila.
“The young Indians need to know Manipur was a sovereign kingdom and had to become a part of India. The discussion on whether the people of Manipur consider themselves as part of India — or not — is a grey area. People here and indeed in the entire Northeastern region, continue to be hounded by security forces in their own homes, while they face racial discrimination and intense alienation when they go outside. But the fact of the matter is that we are included in the entity called India. This means every person in Manipur needs to be accorded the status of citizenship, (in the manner) it is accorded to everyone in the rest of the country. India cannot continue to tag us with ‘India’ and then treat us lesser than it treats other Indians.”– Irom Sharmila.
“My mission has always been to end the misery and oppression of my people. As a hunger striker, this was my driving force and now, as a politician this goal has not changed.” – Irom Sharmila.
Source: The Hindu
“With my conscience I want to do my duty with my life and go my way with my conscience and not based on others’ principles. I have own conscience own judgment to follow also. And as to my personal life, no one can dictate me.”
– Irom Sharmila.
Source: Huffington Post
“I am answerable to future generations. I don’t take full bath as water may go into my stomach. I don’t come close to water. I maintain such honesty in my life. But people have little regard for me. They criticise me even as they relax at home. These people have no responsibility towards their state.” – Irom Sharmila.
Source: The Week