On the auspicious occasion of 44th Birthday of Irom Chamu Sharmila – ‘Iron Lady of Manipur’, it has been announced that Kanhaiya Kumar of Jawaharlal Nehru University (on behalf of the Jawaharlal Nehru Students Union) and Rohith Vemula (posthumous) of Hyderabad Central University will be the joint recipients of The Irom Sharmila Scholarship. The formal announcement of the award was made at a seminar in Delhi School of Economics. However, the award was handed over to the representatives of Vemula and Kumar on behalf of JNUSU at the JNU administration block by JNU Teachers Association.
They have been selected as the recipients for they are the student representatives urging to strengthen India’s constitutional democracy by upholding the constitutional ideals of fraternity, equality, the right to live and inspiring many others across the nation. The award is based on factors like financial need, academic merit, contribution to society and suffering as a result of armed conflict. The scholarship is a lump sum of Rs 50,000 (Rs 60,000 if shared).
In the year 2012, Irom Sharmila Scholarship was started by Professor Nandini Sundar to felicitate those students who are fighting in favour of the cause started by the Iron Lady of Manipur 16 years back. The 42-year-old Manipuri started her fast in 2000, after the death of 10 Manipuris at the hands of Assam Rifles in Imphal. The first person to receive the Scholarship in 2013 was a 22-year old Kashmiri student Iymon Majeed of MA Political Science from Jamia Millia Islamia University. He has been jotting down the experience of Kashmir with Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958 and militarism for various publications.
JNU student that too Left-wing student activist Kanhaiya Kumar – president of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) has been awarded the scholarship and Irom Sharmila has also expressed solidarity with them and the JNU movement. So the campus of JNU is full of support posters for Sharmila’s movement. Many organization except a few oppose Armed Forces Special Powers Act, AFSPA. In the words of Kanhaiya – main accused of the JNU sedition case, “JNU has organized programmes and solidarity meetings, march and movie screenings in support of Sharmila and against AFSPA.”
Lastly, the question that comes up is, post the recent JNU incident and the tag of anti-national, the students, particularly the ones of the northeast, are harbouring fear psychosis while going out of campus ? Is there any solution to this or they have to simply abide by the popular slogan of JNU ‘operation is your privilege, protest is our right’. So we will protest.
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