Teary-eyed Irom Sharmila walks free, to continue anti-AFSPA fight

Irom Chanu Sharmila, an anti-Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) activist who was on an indefinite hunger strike in Manipur for nearly 14 years, walked free on Wednesday after being released from the Jawaharlal Nehru hospital here.

Zee Media Bureau

Imphal: Irom Chanu Sharmila, an anti-Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) activist who was on an indefinite hunger strike in Manipur for nearly 14 years, walked free on Wednesday after being released from the Jawaharlal Nehru hospital here.

Sharmila was released today following a court order which had asked to set free the rights activist, who was under detention for attempting to commit suicide by fasting while demanding withdrawal of a tough law that gives sweeping powers to armed forces from Manipur.

The Manipuri activist was on fast demanding repeal of AFSPA, was released today following a court order. The local court had also also dropped a suicide case against her.
Soon after her release, speaking to the reporters here, an emotional Sharmila said, “I am crying because I am emotional. I want AFSPA to be removed as it is a draconian law.”

"Until and unless my demand is fulfilled I will not touch anything with my mouth. I`m free now, it is my right. Unless my demands are met, I will continue my fast,” she added.

She further said, “I am not a victim but an activist. People should support me, not just treat me like a hero. I don`t want anyone to sing my glory.”

When asked by the journalists that what are her expectations from the Modi government, Sharmila said, “All I want is that the new Government of India should meet my demands.”

Sharmila, known as the Iron Lady of Manipur for her unwavering and non-violent protest, has refused food and water for almost 14 years to draw attention to abuses allegedly committed by security forces.
She began her fast in November 2000 after witnessing the killing of 10 people by the army at a bus stop near her home in Manipur, which is subject to the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

She was arrested on charges of attempted suicide and was sent to a prison hospital where she was force-fed via a nasal drip several times a day. ANI reported that a sessions court in Manipur said the prosecution had failed to prove its charge of attempted suicide against Sharmila and she should be released from house arrest.

She was being kept at the government hospital at Porompat here where a room was converted into a jail. She is being fed through her nose.

She is released and re-arrested every year as the law allows detention only for 364 days.
The state police had earlier filed cases under different provisions of CrPC stating that Sharmila was attempting to commit suicide by fasting for more than 13 years. While Y Indira represented the government, Sharmila was represented by senior advocate and well-known human rights activist Khaidem Mani.

The activist had launched her fast after the killing of 10 people allegedly by Assam Rifles in a suspected encounter with insurgents at Malom near Imphal airport in November 2000. She has been under arrest since then and has been released from time to time but continued her fast for the past more than one decade.

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