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Rabi Banerjee
Rabi Banerjee


People won't even let my fiancé see me

PTI7_12_2013_000128B Tales of wisdom: Sharmila, at her hospital ward, donating books to the Manipur State Central Library | PTI

Attempt to suicide will no longer be a crime. You must be relaxed.

Yes. But that does not mean that my struggle is going to end. As long as AFSPA exists, it is immaterial whether they decriminalise section 309 of the Indian Penal Code or not. I will not take a morsel of food.

But then you will be out of hospital and no one is going to force-feed you.

I don’t know what will happen then. Perhaps, death is my destiny.

But won’t you like to leave prison and lead a normal life with your boyfriend?

Yes, I want to lead a normal life by getting released from prison. But my biggest problem is with the people of Manipur. I am having such a dreadful life for the last 15 years, but look at them. They are having happy lives outside. Why don't they join me?

Why don't you stop your fast in that case?

No, I cannot. I am answerable to future generations. I don’t take full bath as water may go into my stomach. I don’t come close to water. I maintain such honesty in my life. But people have little regard for me. They criticise me even as they relax at home. These people have no responsibility towards their state.

The government will not accept your conditions. So are you ready to die?

I hope the government will understand. I want the international community to put pressure on our government to withdraw such a draconian law [AFSPA]. But if nothing works and my people remain as paralysed as they are, then I don’t know what will happen. But even if I die, future generations will preserve my footprint, I am sure.

People are angry about your love life.

I think they don’t have any stake in that. It is my personal life. He [Desmond Coutinho] is my fiancé. But they are attacking him. They don’t let him meet me. He is very outspoken, which they don’t like. Desmond has been arrested and kept in jail illegally. My own lawyer prevented him from meeting me. He is a different person I would say. I have not seen such a sensitive guy in my life.

If the government decides to partially withdraw AFSPA, will you withdraw your fast?

No. I am not ready for the partial withdrawal of my fast like the partial withdrawal of AFSPA.

If the prime minister requests you to withdraw your fast at least for some time, saying he would withdraw AFSPA in phased manner?

I have not decided on that. Let him move first, I will decide then.

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