Manipur’s Satyagrahi, activist Irom Sharmila Chanu finally ends her hunger strike against a controversial law after 16 years, today (August 9).
She has been on a fast since November, 2000 as a mark of protest against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (1958) which gives soldiers the power to arrest without warrants and even shoot to kill in certain situations.
She told a court last month that she would end her protest on 9th August and begin campaigning as an independent candidate for the upcoming assembly elections in the Northeastern state of Manipur.
Chanu explained her decision: “The Government has not been listening to our voices and has been suppressing our movement.”
She said she will join politics and contest polls in a bid to “get our voices heard at the Centre”.
AFSPA is in effect in several Indian states, including in Manipur and Indian-administered Kashmir.
She has spent most of the last 16 years in judicial custody in a hospital in Manipur’s capital and has been force-fed through a tube in her nose for more than a decade
She started her fast 16 years ago after 10 civilians were killed by Indian soldiers in Manipur.
Ms Chanu was released in August 2014 after the court rejected the charge that she was “attempting to commit suicide”. But she was re-arrested two days later after she refused to end her protest.
Ms Chanu appeared in the Manipur High Court every two weeks to reaffirm her protest.
The activist has received considerable attention from local and international media outlets in recent years and has the support of women and civil rights groups in the state
(Prepared from media sources by Seema Kumari)