Imphal. Parul Sharma (name changed) a journalist with CNN-IBN accidentally landed at Irom Sharmila’s fast after mistaking her for Sharmila Tagore, much to the embarrassment of journalists, activists and citizens at large.
Irom Sharmila, who has been fasting for 10 years to support lifting of the AFSPA powers act in Manipur and is arrested every year under Section 309 of the Indian constitution – said she was happy about finally getting mainstream media’s attention towards issues of the North East but realized something was wrong when the journalist started questioning her about Saif Ali Khan’s upcoming film Aarakshan and “daughter” Soha Ali Khan’s continuing downward spiral in Bollywood.
“I did not know what happened. First I thought my cause is finally getting the attention it deserves along with Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev’s so-called fasts until breakfast. But then she started asking if this was another publicity stunt for son Saif’s new movie and whether conducting the fast in China was a way for Bollywood to reach a new target market. That’s when I realized something was wrong. Who knows where these CNN-IBN people get their training from, but at least we finally saw one camera crew,” said a visibly amused Irom Sharmila who couldn’t stop laughing and stopped the interview midway on realizing the journalist’s error.
Parul, an English Hons. graduate from a top private journalism school in New Delhi describes the incident as follows: “One night I was sitting online on Twitter waiting for my boss Rajdeep’s daily pearls of twisdom, when he asked why Irom Sharmila hadn’t gotten the same coverage as Ramdev over the last 10 years – and I thought WOW! I didn’t know Sharmila had been on a fast for so long. I thought I could cover it and impress Rajdeep into getting a promotion – I mean what’s the point of owning a TV channel and cribbing about her not getting coverage for 10 years?”
On being asked why she didn’t identify Irom Sharmila as being a different person she said, “Arre yaar who knows what these Bollywood people look like without make up? I haven’t seen her on TV since the time grandma watched her movies on Doordarshan and I thought it was her. In hindsight though I guess I should have realized she could not be fasting for 10 years and be the Brooke Bond Red Label brand ambassador at the same time.”
After this faux pas, people in Manipur have requested Delhi media not to make further attempts at sanity as they fear the whole issue going the Jan Lokpal way. “We don’t want Digvijay Singh passing judgments on Menghaobi’s credentials and integrity,” a Manipuri resident expressed his deepest fears.
Back in Delhi, aam aadmi was left wondering if AFSPA was some variant of corruption.
(reported by Khamba [name not changed])