Imphal: `Iron Lady` Irom Chanu Sharmila, who
is demanding repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act
(AFSPA) in Manipur on Saturday completed 11 years of her indefinite
On November 2, 2000, an Assam Rifles battalion allegedly
killed 10 civilians in a village near Imphal. Three days
later, Sharmila embarked on her fast, demanding revocation of
Since then it has settled into a ritual which involves a
ten-minute ambulance journey from hospital to court every
fortnight where the magistrate asks her whether she would
break her fast.
The ritual has repeated itself over 500 times so far, but
her reply remains the same - "Fast thodolokai" (No, I won`t
break my fast). The court then extends her judicial remand for
another 15 days.
She hasn`t ingested food or water all these years and is
force-fed through a nasal tube. Hunger strike is seen as an
attempt to commit suicide, which is a punishable offence.
The 39-year-old civil rights activist, described as a
`habitual offender` by the court, has been arrested, released
and re-arrested for attempt to commit suicide.
Produced as an undertrial prisoner at the Imphal East
district`s CJM court, she has refused bail each time.
"If she accepts bail she has to give a written
undertaking of not repeating the offence. In other words, she
has to discontinue her fast for getting bail," Sharmila`s
long-time associate Babloo Loitongbam of the Just Peace
The police, too, have not filed any charge sheet in the