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Irom Sharmila Gets No Place to Stay in Imphal; Short Exile Only Option?

Sharmila's family has 7 houses (they are 9 siblings) in Imphal, but when she was released from the hospital a little after 4 pm, she didn't get a place to stay in any one of them.

Subhajit Sengupta | News18.comSubhajitSG

Updated:August 10, 2016, 10:15 PM IST
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Irom Sharmila Gets No Place to Stay in Imphal; Short Exile Only Option?
Irom Sharmila being brought to the court in Imphal on August 9. (PTI)
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The last question of my interview with Irom Sharmila was, where would she put up, now that she can leave the hospital.

Sharmila's answer was brief "Checking, checking, let me see". In captivity in this room for the last 16 years, Sharmila today has no place to go.

Sharmila's family has 7 houses (they are 9 siblings) in Imphal, but when she was released from the hospital a little after 4 pm, she didn't get a place to stay in any one of them.

Her elder brother Irom Singhajit, has been unhappy about the decision, ever since Sharmila had announced it. He said his mother wanted Irom to come home only once the goal (removal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act) is achieved. This virtually meant doors are shut for her, at least for now.

Shortly after the press conference, Sharmila was taken out of the hospital in a police gypsy. Her first stop was the residence of a former health director and activist Thiyam Suresh's house. But, the word got out before she got in. Women activists, often called Imas (mother) blocked the way. They did not want her. Imas are upset too. They did not want Irom to break her fast.

During her hunger-strike days, they were her closest allies. Somewhere it appeared Imas were angry at not been consulted, before she took the decision. Her stand on marrying an outsider, took her further from them. And Sharmila is angry, she said some in the civil society just want her to become a martyr and not take proactive steps

Her next attempt was at the local Iskcon temple. She offered her prayers, but they refused to offer her a place to stay. Sources say that the reaction of the civil society and the perceived threat by the underground group, were the reasons why the temple authorities backed out.

Sources in both the administration and the civil society say that this is not a spontaneous protest.

While there is a sense of disappointment and anger amongst some section of the civil society, it hasn't reached such epic proportions that all doors would be shut for her. People close to Sharmila, now say a change in strategy is essential. She has a security threat and cannot be allowed to live at unsecured locations.

Thus all options are being evaluated. Has Imphal suddenly become too small to accommodate Irom Sharmila? This even as a short exile to Delhi or elsewhere is being examined by people close to her. After all 16 years is a long time, as Irom Sharmila realizes, surprisingly it is long enough to isolate, the Iron Woman.



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