In solidarity with Irom Sharmila, and against the draconian AFSPA, AIPWA held campaigns and protest initiatives in many states.
On 3 November, an impressive day-long protest dharna was held at Devaria in Uttar Pradesh. A large number of rural women workers participated in the protest, which was joined by women advocates. The protest was led by AIPWA State Secretary Premlata Pandey, AIPWA leader Geeta Pandey and others. For many who came to attend the protest, it was an eye-opener about the 11-year-long ongoing fast of a woman against a repressive law imposed on the North East and Kashmir.
At Varanasi, AIPWA organised a film screening on 5 November at Lanka. The film – AFSPA 1958 – directed by Haoban Pawan Kumar, that depicts the trail of trauma that AFSPA creates, left a powerful impact on viewers that was palpable from the moist eyes in the room. AIPWA dedicated the programme to the steely resolve of Irom Sharmila.
Memorandums demanding scrapping of AFSPA were submitted in protest programmes held at Mirzapur, Sitapur, Gorakhpur, Kanpur, Lakhimpur, and Pilibhit.
At Patna, a seminar was held on 3 December at Patna University, by AIPWA along with the Women’s Studies Department, in which several students participated. The seminar was presided over by Prof. Bharti S Kumar, and was addressed by Padmalata Thakur, in-charge of the Women’s Studies Department and professor of history, Seema Prasad of the Political Science department, Daisy Narayan of the History department, Saroj Chaubey, Vice President, AIPWA, and Meena Tiwari, General Secretary, AIPWA.
At Ranchi, a seminar was held on 27 November following a vigorous campaign. Speakers at the Seminar included Fr. Stan Swamy of PUCL, social activist Jyoti Lakra, cultural activist Xavier Kujur, and Gopinath Ghosh. Sunita, National Secretary of AIPWA, conducted the seminar. An impressive protest march against AFSPA was held by AIPWA on 9 November at Kolkata.
On 2 November, a protest meeting agaist AFSPA was jointly organised at the Guwahati Press Club, presided over by progressive writer Dr Anina Guha. Several women’s organisations including Assam State Committee participated in the protest. Speakers at the protest meeting included Junu Bora of AIPWA and editor of Jonaki Bat; Sumitra Hazarika of Nirjatan Virodhi Ekta Mancha; Mridula Kalita of Nari Mukti Sangram Samiti, Kusum Devi of Manipuri women’s organisation Meira Paibi; Himadri Devi of Brihattar Noonmati Nari Nirjata Virodhi Ekta Manch, Masfica Begum of Sachetan Nagrik Manch, as well as activists of NFIW Assam State Committee, North East Network and Lekhika Santha, and intellectuals and journalists including Maini Mahanta, editor of a women’s magazine, and Suparna Lahiri Barua. The protestors then held a procession and human chain in front of Guwahati Press Club, demanding repeal of AFSPA and enquiry into all instances of atrocities and punishment for the perpetrators. On the same day, AIPWA also held protest programmes against AFSPA at Dibrugarh and Raha.
AISA, AIPWA and CPI(ML) leaders and activists from Nagpur joined several organisations in Wardha, along with University professors, social activists, students, in a procession organised by the Jan Adhikar Manch on 5 November at Wardha in Maharashtra to express solidarity with Irom Sharmila. The procession marched ten kilometres before reaching the District Magistrate’s office where a day-long fast was observed. During the day long hunger strike the students performed various street plays and group songs. The meeting that followed was addressed by AISA’s Maharashtra President- Abhilasha and CPI(ML)’s Harendra Srivastava among others.
In Rajasthan, solidarity programmes were held at Jaipur and Udaipur, where mass delegations submitted memorandums demanding scrapping of AFSPA to the Collector.