PALAKKAD : She fasted for 16 years to protect the rights of her countrymen to lead a dignified life. 90 votes - that was all she got for her 16 years of struggle. The bitter experience forced the ‘Iron Lady of Manipur’ to quit politics and travel south to calm her mind.
After realising that politics is not her cup of tea, the feisty fighter, who seldom travelled outside Manipur, arrived at the tribal village of Attappadi in Kerala on a soul searching mission.
It was a different day for the gritty fighter, who celebrated her 45th birthday along with her activist friends at Attappadi on Tuesday.
For a woman, who spent most of her life fasting within the dingy walls of a prison, the lush green forest, the streams and Malleswara Mudi, the hillock of Lord Shiva, presented an ideal place for a truly relaxing break.
Sharmila landed at Coimbatore Airport at 6.15 am and started for Attappadi by road at 8 am.
Speaking to media persons enroute to Attappadi, Irom Sharmila said the people of Manipur need to wake up to the reality.
She said the victory of the BJP was a victory of money and muscle power. “The defeat was not unexpected. There was no vote bank for me to bank upon. The Aam Admi Party workers helped me in my campaign,” she said.
Upset over the poll results, Irom Sharmila said she has decided to stay away from electoral politics. But the fight against violation of human rights and army excess will continue.
“My intention is to put the past to rest and take a rest for which I have come to Kerala. I will chalk out my future plans in due course of time”, said Irom Sharmila.
Speaking to Express Uma Preman, a philanthropist, who runs Shanthi Medical Information Centre in Attappadi said, “When Irom Sharmila expressed her desire to spend a month with us we were elated.
She had informed that she will not eat rice. So we dropped the idea of serving a ‘sadya’ on her birthday and limited it to a ‘payasam’.
In the morning, she had chappathi and had puri masala in the afternoon. In the evening, she took a stroll arround the 16-acre farm where we grow fruits and vegetables.
She also spent some time with the inmates make napkins and palm leaf plates”.
Basheer Madala, who invited her to Attappadi, said Irom Sharmila was happy with the love and support the people of Kerala had showered on her.
“She will spend a month at Shanthi Medical Information Centre in Mattathkad, a hamlet in Sholayur panchayat of Attappadi. In the morning, she had chappathi and ‘kadala curry’ which she relished,” he said.
Irom Sharmila was accompanied by Najima Bibi, the first Muslim woman in Manipur to contest the elections.
Defying a fatwa issued by her community against contesting elections, Najima Bibi plunged into the struggle against domestic violence and for ensuring the uplift of Muslim women.
Najima had contested elections on a PRJA ticket from Wabagai constituency and lost.
People’s Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA) was the party floated by Irom Sharmila.
Najima, who runs a home for destitute women in Manipur defied the orthodox leaders of her community to fight the elections.