Kodaikanal, August 17: Internationally renowned human rights activist Irom Sharmila has married a British citizen Desmond Coutinho at a special function held in the hill town of Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu on Thursday morning.
Despite opposition by various groups from the hill town, Sharmila and her partner were granted permission and invited by the Sub-Registrar of Kodaikanal Mr. Anna Salai for the court marriage.
Some section of the locals including a lawyer and a politician alleged that her presence in Kodaikanal would lead to social unrest. However, Sharmila repeatedly denied those allegations, saying that the law has permitted any citizen of the country to move from one state to another according their own wishes.
Sharmila and his long-time partner Desmond Coutinho met for the first time in 2011. Desmond Coutinho had announced their marriage on May last, after struggling with a long distance relationship for many years.
The two had waited for nearly two months to complete legal formalities in Tamil Nadu. They were given a marriage papers under the ‘Special Marriage Act 1954’ this morning.
Before entering the sub-registrar’s office, Sharmila takes some questions from the media but refused any ‘private interviews’ and requested them to ‘allow their privacy’.
Just one night before her marriage, Sharmila on Wednesday night released a press statement asking the public and media to not create any confusion or misunderstanding about her marriage.
“I dedicated over 16 years to the removal of the AFSPA. I promise to the dead and to the survivors of this Draconian Law to pursue its repeal by non-violent means. Most recently I approached Sofia Ashraf a Tamil Hip Hop artist now to write and perform a rap song for the removal of the AFSPA. I hope to present this at the IYC SAARC conference in Bhubaneswar Odissa next month to 450 youth delegates from around the world and their countries’ youth ministers. I will continue to do all I can to bring this draconian colonial law to the attention of those in power using non-violent loving persuasion. The democratically elected government of an independent nation must not rule as our former imperial masters. They must govern India as one united family and not treat its own citizens in ways they would not wish to be treated themselves” she said in a statement.
“There has been some interest in social media around purported complaints or attempts to stop my marriage. I do not understand why my marriage is a matter for discussion by any groups who do not know us and who are not related to us. I have never heard of any other person’s marriage being talked about in this way. It remains puzzling. Our house in Portumna has now been sold. We will soon own a beautiful home in this beautiful land as far as any person can own anything. I will continue to dedicate my life to service for as long as I can be of service. I hope that India becomes what it truly is and that others are inspired to a life of service before and for others rather than made fearful of it. Love” she added.