Irom Sharmila ended her indefinite hunger strike against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act on Tuesday after she was granted bail by a local court in an attempted suicide case. Utv Pakistan Report
The court fixed August 23 as the date for Sharmila’s reappearance to examine is she is guilty of trying to commit suicide under Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code.
“The chief judicial magistrate granted her bail after she signed the PR bond of Rs 10,000. The court will now issue the release order to the jail authorities,” Sharmila’s counsel L Rebeda said.
Sharmila was in the custody of Imphal’s Sajiwa Central Jail, but kept in a ward of the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences (JNIMS) where she has been force-fed through a nasal tube under security for years.
The Amnesty International said Sharmila’s decision to end fast was an opportunity for the Indian government to scrap the contentious law.
“The Afspa is inconsistent with India’s obligations under international human rights law to respect and protect the rights to life, liberty and security of person, to freedom from torture and other ill-treatment, and to an effective remedy,” the global body said in a statement. “Several Indian and international bodies have called for its repeal.”
Popularly known as the Iron Lady of Manipur, 44-year-old Sharmila began her fast on November 4, 2000, demanding the repeal of “this act that gives security forces the license to kill”, two days after the Assam Rifles gunned down 10 people at Malom near state capital Imphal.
She had on July 26 surprised everyone, saying she would on August 9 end her hunger strike, and also that she planned to marry. She also expressed interest in joining electoral politics in the second innings of her fight against the Afspa 1958 — which gives security forces powers to search, enter property and shoot on sight.
Manipur, and the Meitei-dominated Imphal Valley specifically, has been divided over her decision. Some want her to carry on fasting for the “greater cause” while others feel telling Sharmila what to do with her life is nobody’s business.
The activist’s personal life began to affect her public life after Desmond Coutinho, a British citizen of Indian origin, met her in the hospital in March 2011. Sharmila and Coutinho, then 48, had been exchanging letters since 2009 and after their meeting, Sharmila said he loved her.
This too did not go down well with many in Manipur who believed Coutinho was planted by the government to wean Sharmila away from the anti-Afspa movement.
After spending years in hospitals, it is believed Sharmila will now stay with her mother, 94-year-old Sakhi Devi, who she was closest to before launching the hunger strike. Devi lives with Irom Singhajit, Sharmila’s elder brother, in Imphal’s Kongkham locality.