Irom Sharmila, the iron lady of Manipur, who was on hunger strike for the past 16 years has decided to end her fast and contest election. The 44-year-old told a district court in Manipur today that she will end her fast on August 9. She also told the court that she wants to marry. Sharmila is expected to contest the next Manipur election as an independent candidate.
Irom Chanu Sharmila has been confined to a room at a government hospital and force-fed through a nasal tube for 14 years.
“We are trying to speak to her to get a sense of how she wants to take struggle forward. Of course if she wants to end her fast, it is totally her prerogative but it is also important to carry the struggle forward,” Babloo Loitongbam , an activist and her close associate told NDTV.
Sharmila was 27 when she launched her fast in November 2000 against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act or AFSPA that gives the army sweeping emergency powers in the northeastern state. Days before she began her protest, 10 people, including two children, had been shot dead in Imphal, allegedly by personnel of the Assam Rifles.
The law allows soldiers legal immunity when they are operating in “disturbed areas” or states dealing with separatists or insurgents. Soldiers are allowed to make arrests without warrants or raid any location.