Lecture by Ms. Deepti Mehrotra

On 23 September 2014, the Political Science Association organized a lecture by Deepti Mehrotra on her book ‘Burning Bright Irom Sharmila’. The talk was attended by over 50 students.

Ms. Mehrotra described her experience of meeting Irom Sharmila and her journey of writing her book. She said that the first time she met Irom Sharmila, in early-November 2006; she was reading a book on Japanese folk stories. Subsequently, they discussed more books — Buddhist texts, Manipuri poetry, the newspapers, and Irom sharmila spoke about her poems, saying: “I write long poems — some 400 lines, one 600 lines.”

Irom Sharmila left New Delhi for Manipur on March 4, 2007, and was arrested a few hours after her arrival in Imphal. She was remanded to judicial custody on March 7, 2008, for a year. Permission to visit Irom in hospital in Imphal is not easily granted. When Ms. Mehrotra made a trip to Imphal in April 2007, Irom Singhjit ran around trying to get her permission to visit Irom. A jail escort came in with them. According to Ms. Mehrotra, ‘For six weeks, nobody had been allowed to meet Irom. Her face broke into a delighted smile when she saw us: she proffered a little notebook, saying: “I have completed writing the poem! It is a poem of one thousand and ten lines!” On my request, she read out the first page of the poem, and translated it.’

Irom Sharmila is philosophical, thoughtful and determined she will not eat until AFSPA is repealed. Not a single morsel of food, or even a drop of water, has passed through her lips since November 4, 2000 — a period of nearly 90 months. Stoic, friendly, and completely committed, Sharmila is a unique rebel. Ms. Mehrotra concluded by stating that Physically isolated, her body frail, Sharmila’s spirit remains as strong as ever. Tucked away in a state geographically and culturally remote from the capital, she nonetheless poses a powerful challenge to the impunity and high-handedness of State power.

– Neha Dewan, Second Year.


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