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Saturday, 20 August 2011

Where Irom Sharmila overshadows Anna Hazare

IMPHAL: Unlike other states, Manipur is yet to witness a massive support for Anna Hazare's anti-corruption campaign from the people, social organizations and NGOs. However, the BJP and CPI (ML) has supported the Gandhian.

People are so pre-occupied with their lives in the face of the intensified economic blockade along National Highways 39 and 53 and Irom Sharmila Chanu's decade-old fast against the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act that Anna's campaign has failed to make an impact on them, feel social analysts and human rights defenders.

In pursuit of its long-standing demand to create Sadar Hills district, the Kukis have been imposing economic blockade along the two key supply routes since August 1. The intensified agitation has triggered commodity crisis in the state, prompting the public to rush for foodstuff and essentials to meet their daily requirements. While the rate of a litre of petrol soared to Rs 130, people are forced to buy an LPG cylinder at Rs 1100 in the grey market.

"We do support Anna's anti-corruption campaign but people in Manipur are more concerned with the scarcity of essential commodities triggered by the ongoing economic blockade," said Babloo Loitongbam, the executive director of Human Rights Alert (HRA).

"Sharmila's 10-year fast against the military Act, which gives unbridled powers to the armed forces even to shoot on mere suspicion has not been paid attention by the government. I think the people of Manipur are not taking serious note of Anna's stir because of this," added Babloo.

Some daily wagers in Imphal, who have been hit hard by the economic blockade, categorically said Anna's stir was not in their mind as they are fighting for their survival. "What we are thinking is food to live and fuel to move to earn money and not Anna stir. Yes, we also want a strong anti-corruption law, but without food we cannot shout for the Jan Lok Pal bill," quipped Rajen Singh, a daily wager.

BJP, while supporting Anna's campaign, has accused the Centre of encouraging corruption by continuing to scuttle the civil society's version of the Lokpal Bill. A party leader said they would soon intensify their ongoing anti-corruption campaign in the state. The state committee of CPI (ML) has termed the recent arrest of Anna and clamping of prohibitory orders at New Delhi as an "autocratic act" of the Centre.


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