Irom Sharmila

While many 'newsmakers' are catapulted to almost celebrity status overnight for doing hardly anything of acclaim, many others languish in the shadows despite living for others and helping change the lives of the underprivileged. Many of them remain mere footnotes to history, their extraordinary work almost snuffed out before the gale force of petty sensationalism that the world seems to find more 'interesting'. So here is an attempt to honour those who have done some extraordinary and selfless work in the society, bringing joy to hundreds of lives. This is a salute to the unsung heroes of 2012.

She has the courage to fight one of the most powerful governments in the world. She's frail but not fainted hearted. Irom Sharmila from Manipur is a true example of a woman's perseverance.

Twelve years ago, Sharmila began her indefinite hunger strike against military presence in the North East.  The then 28-year-old's demand was that the government repeal the all-powerful AFSPA after troops of the Assam Rifles gunned down 10 civilians at a bus stop in Manipur.

The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) gives sweeping powers to the armed forces when they fight separatist insurgents or leftist radicals. The act was enforced in the North-Eastern states and Jammu and Kashmir to tackle militancy.

Along with many awards for her fearless act, 'The iron lady of Manipur' has been arrested multiple times. Her fight is for the most basic human right -- the choice to live without fear in one's own homeland. Sharmila is currently in judicial custody and is force-fed through her nose to keep her alive.

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