Imphal: Manipuri human rights activist Irom Sharmila on Tuesday ended her 16-year-long fast and expressed desire to enter politics.
“From today onwards I have ended my fast,” Sharmila said in Imphal, the capital of her home state Manipur where she had been on a hunger strike since 2000 demanding the removal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act [AFSPA].
Sharmila (42), also called the Iron Lady of Manipur, got emotional and broke down as she licked some honey to mark the ending of her fast, the world's longest hunger strike.
“I will never forget this moment,” she said.
“I want to join politics as I've been called the Iron Lady of Manipur and I want to live upto that name,” she said further at a press conference.
“I know nothing about politics, and about academic line also. My education is very very low. But I want to convince our people that my power will shower upon people, and without sense of defensive and possessive nature,” Sharmila said.
“I will use everything I have for a positive society... foremost thing will be removal of this draconian law (AFSPA),” she added.
"I am not a goddess, I want to be a human being. I want to be Chief Minister of Manipur to make a positive difference," she said further.
Sharmila said she was unable to understand why some people were oposing her entry into politics.
“I don't understand why some radical groups are against me wanting to get into politics?” she said.
“Let them kill me the way people killed Mahatma Gandhi with accusation of being anti-Hindu,” the Manipuri activist said while commenting on the death threats she had been receiving.
“I, being the real embodiment of revolution, want to be the CM of Manipur to help people,” she said further.
Asked to comment on the ongoing protests in Jammu and Kashmir, Sharmila said, "Let the Kashmiris have the right of self-determination."
Meanwhile, Sharmila was taken to a hospital after she ended her 16-year-long fast.
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Earlier in the day, Sharmila had said that she wants to become the chief minister of Manipur so that the AFSPA can be removed from the state.
She will contest the 2017 Assembly Elections from Khurai Assembly constituency as an independent, she said.
Sharmila, who has been on fast unto death since November 4, 2000, told a court today that she wanted to end her fast.
She was then released on bail by L Tonsing, chief judicial magistrate, Imphal west, where she was produced. Later, she signed a bond for Rs 10,000.
Sharmila had begun her hunger strike in November 2000 following the killing of 10 civilians by security forces.
She was arrested by the Manipur government the same year on charges of attempting to commit suicide.
She has always denied the charge, saying she is using the fast as a weapon.
As the prosecution failed to prove that she was trying to kill herself, the Chief Judicial Magistrate had ordered on February 29, 2016 that she be freed.
She was rearrested on the same charge as she continued the fast.
Sharmila has been appealing to all sections of the people to support her cause. But except for some reporters, there is nobody to meet her when she goes to the court every 15 days.
(With agency inputs)