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21 Sep 2019, Edition - 1530, Saturday

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Coimbatore

Lover Desmond, Iron Lady Irom become Man and Wife

AR. Meyyammai

Kodaikanal: After a seven year-long wait, renowned peace activist and human rights defender Irom Sharmila (45) from Manipur and Desmond Coutinho (55), a British national, entered into a wedlock in Kodaikanal, the princess of hill resorts, in Tamil Nadu, on Thursday.

Their marriage was solemnised under the Special Marriage Act before sub-registrar Radhakrishnan at the sub-registrar’s office in the hill town that has become the couple’s residence since a few months now.

As desired by Irom, Divya Bharathi, the 26-year-old documentary filmmaker, who rose to fame with her maiden film Kakkoos that shook the conscience of the caste-ridden Tamil society, stood as her bridesmaid.

Emboldened by the Madras High Court granting interim stay on police probe into cases Divya is facing under IPC sections on charges of promoting enmity and hatred between two castes through the depiction in her film, arrived at Irom’s home from Kerala, where she has taken refuge after facing threat to her life, constant harassment and online abuse, with her husband Gopal and a couple of CPI-ML activists in time.

Holding Divya’s hand out of oozing affection, the Iron Lady in traditional pink-coloured Manipuri phanek, with groom Desmond in matching pink kurti beside her, walked wearing a smile on her face for about 2.5 kilometres from her rented home near Observatory to the sub-registrar’s office near Kodai town police station.

At about 10 am, they arrived at the office, no sooner than which the waiting media persons surrounded them for bytes. Heeding to media’s request, the couple said their wait for marriage has come to an end. “Thanks to my fiancé who wholeheartedly and unconditionally stood by me to what I had been going through. Now, we are binding in our relationship legally,” the soft-spoken Iron Lady of Manipur said.

Desmond said they are planning to lead a peaceful life in Kodaikanal. After giving more than half-an-hour for the media, they, accompanied by a team of lawyers headed by Abdul Hameed, walked inside the sub-registrar’s office. Along with scores of media persons, an equal number of intelligence sleuths from both central and state agencies were in attendance to gather inputs.

A few activists including Selva Gomathi from Madurai-based SOCO Trust and a few local tribal representatives were there to express their solidarity. Surprisingly, a couple of functionaries from the Congress’ district unit were among the uninvited guests, while those from Hindu Makkal Katchi and DMDK who raised objection to her getting married in Kodaikanal stayed off.

“Those are the elements who wanted publicity which is why they submitted petitions against Irom’s marriage,”a sleuth from the anti-nasal wing of the special intelligence branch, who was present at the venue, told The Covai Post.

Meanwhile, the marriage was still to be solemnised and Irom had to wait for another half-an-hour, as Desmond, who was visibly tensed, forgot to bring with him his passport, which he needed to show to sub-registrar Radhakrishnan as document proof.

The wait, at about 11.30 am, was over. As Desmond returned with documents, they registered their marriage, exchanged garlands and became Man and Wife. “God bless us,”said Irom, while her husband appealed to all to let them lead a peaceful life.

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