Despite becoming a living legend across the world, Irom Sharmila is struggling to prove herself as an Indian citizen as she has no legal identification documents. The 44-year-old rights activist broke her 16-year-long peaceful hunger strike against Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act earlier this month. She further stated that she would contest elections to continue her fight against the controversial law.
No Valid Documents
Under provisions of Indian Constitution, only an Indian citizen can contest either Parliamentary or Assembly Elections. However, Irom Sharmila has no documents to prove her citizenship. She doesn’t have a PAN card, voter identity card or a bank account.
According to a report, her friends have begun the paperwork to get her all the required documents. So that they can prove she is an Indian citizen and subsequently she will be allowed to contest polls.
‘Her campaign, if at all she ends up in politics, needs to be crowd-funded. And for that, she needs a bank account and a PAN card as it is unimaginable for anyone without a voter ID to be a people’s representative,’ one of Sharmila’s friends said.
Sharmila’s Support System
She broke her fast on August 9, saying she wanted to become CM and repeal AFSPA. Her decision angered many in Manipur including members of her family. However four of her friends stood by her. They are cooking meals for the frail Sharmila and marshalling resources to get documents for the new chapter in her life.
‘We know she is strong, but even the strongest need reassurance that he or she is not alone.’ Nandini Thokchom, one of Irom Sharmila’s friends, said. The other three -Ranjita, Monica and Reetika – have been staying with Sharmila in her hospital ward since August 9.
They say support for Sharmila has been swelling after the initial animosity. Most of her well-wishers are those who will be first-time voters in Manipur’s Assembly Election next year.
The four friends have been cleaning Sharmila’s room and helping her switch from liquid to semi-liquid and solid food. Apart from a concoction of nutrients in liquid form, Sharmila has been on a diet of mashed banana, oats, cornflakes and sweetened cucumber.
Some of her friends have also launched a Facebook page seeking support for the new journey Sharmila has undertaken.