Irom Sharmila, the famous human rights activist of Manipur popularly known as Iron Lady, has decided to break her 16 years long hunger strike on August 9 and contest in the Manipur elections. Sharmila began her hunger strike demanding repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act ( AFSPA ) in November 2000 after 10 civilians were gunned down by Assam Rifles soldiers at a bus stop in state capital city Imphal.
It must be mentioned here that Sharmila has been in custody for almost that entire duration of her hunger strike, so that she can be fed through a nasal tube.
She has been charged multiple times with section 309 of the IPC for attempting to commit suicide, kept in custody for 365 days , released for a few days and then rearrested with fresh charges under the same section.
people associated with her said her decision would mark a new beginning in the fight against AFSPA in the state.
The Centre welcomed her decision with Jitendra Singh, minister in charge for northeastern states saying, “Good that it has dawned on her that sensitive issues like AFSPA should be left to armed forces and not made a political cause. I welcome her decision to fight elections and separatists from Kashmir should take a cue from her.”
Meanwhile, Sharmila’s decision to contest in the elections is likely to have a huge impact on Manipur’s political scene.