Dear Anna,

Thank you for inviting me to join in your crusade. It’s a little too late to join forces – you broke your fast today morning. I am writing to you now to explain why I would never have joined you in the first place.

Others have disputed your ends; I object to your means.

Do you believe we’re still a democracy? If yes, why did you hold a democratically elected government to ransom? If not, what makes you think you have any right to protest?

Why have you never stood for elections? Why not make the Jan Lokpal Bill your campaign plank? Which electorate wouldn’t have voted you to Parliament? I wish you’d raised your voice inside Parliament rather than outside it.

Would you be Speaker? Do you decide which bills to admit? Are you the one who mandates how soon they must be passed? Who made you the one-man Standing Committee that could modify the Bill? Lately, it seems as though our country is governed by an unelected oligarchy, where you are the first among few equals.

And your supporters may gherao my house for this, but I think threatening to fast until Parliament passes your version of the Bill is akin to a child throwing tantrums. India isn’t Anna – you are only one amongst the many who have the right to decide.

During your agitation, Mumbai taxi union leader A L Quadros declared that cabbies would strike work and the Government would be responsible for the inconvenience caused. The ever-industrious Tata Steel decided to cease operations for a day. Sensex fell to an 18-month low.

Does it make sense to lose money while trying to save it by preventing corruption?

I began fasting when the Assam Rifles mindlessly shot ten people waiting at a Manipur bus stop; you began when the Government refused to include members of civil society in the committee that was to draft the Bill. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act has transformed the army into an irresponsible monster; the Jan Lokpal Bill will create an independent body that will be answerable to no-one. I am fighting against a draconian law that has been in effect for 53 years; you are fighting against one that is yet to be passed.

The Manipur government has repeatedly arrested and force-fed me; you’ve had the audacity to refuse to leave jail.

Both you and I worship Gandhiji and his methods. He used them to protest against the British and their oppressive policies. I use them to protest against the army and the atrocities they’ve committed. You’re using them to protest against the government of the nation of which he is called Father.

I have been fasting for eleven years and the Centre has barely taken notice. You’ve been doing the same for twelve days and Parliament has already capitulated.

There’s only one positive thing that I can say about your methods which, alas, is the only thing that seems to matter these days:

They work.

* * *


10 thoughts on “IROM SHARMILA’S REPLY

  1. Has Anna read this? his supporters should be given a copy each?The amount of time people have spend going all gaga over his fasting, could have been spend thinking something productive or constructive for the nation.

  2. If the to be passed bill makes any difference in reducing corruption, remember to not take advantage of it cause it was obtained by wrong means!

    You may also want to apply for an internship under Sibal or Chiddu in summer if you get bored! 😛

  3. Mrigank Warrier, i am truly a fan of ur thinking(whether i agree or not) n ur writing. In d midst of al f pro-anna cries,uv managed 2 mk ur pt,loud n clear. I luv d last line,especially.Keep writin,dude.

  4. These ways work because we are a bunch of people demanding a law to regulate us! Clearly we have given up on self regulation!!
    And as I have said earlier, I salute your clarity of thought and your amazing writing.

  5. mrigank,,, awesome read!! but sadly we have to find ways which work.. the results do matter.. and yes u have definitely given words to my feelings..

  6. All the respect i had for anna (ralegaon siddhi) vanished over the past few days… i was called pro-corruption n what not… but i still agree wid u… a hunger-strike is not only black-mail, but in my mind also akin to attempt-to-suicide… and it also creates a dangerous precedent for others… not cool..

  7. Even a black mail in d form f hunger strike s nt bad….if v get sm fruitful results…n corruption s reduced…
    d money which was lost due to strike f cab drivers n dipping of sensex would b much less than d amount our country loses due to corruption…
    But its a democracy…u r free to have have ur own point f view…

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