Sixteen years after starting her path-setting hunger strike demanding repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, Manipur’s “Iron Lady” Irom Chanu Sharmila has decided to end her fast on August 9 and contest Assembly elections as an Independent candidate.
The 44-year-old iconic rights activist, who has been forcibly fed through a nasal tube since 2000, said she would join politics as she no longer believes that her fast will lead to the repeal of the “draconian” AFSPA.
“I will end my fast on August 9 and contest elections on an independent ticket,” Sharmila told the media after coming out of a local court here where she is facing a trial for attempting suicide.
“I will join politics and my fight will continue,” Sharmila, who has refused to eat or drink anything since November, 2000 and is forcibly fed through a nasal tube in Imphal’s Jawahar Lal Nehru Hospital, a special ward of which acts as her prison.
Assembly elections in Manipur are scheduled early next year. In the past, many political leaders have met Sharmila and tried to cajole her into joining politics but she has rejected all offers.
She also expressed her desire to get married after coming out of prison on August 9.The civil rights activist is known to have a boyfriend, a British national of Indian origin, who has in the past been in trouble with Sharmila supporters.
On the charge of attempting suicide by means of a fast unto death in 2006 at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, she has been arrested, released and then re-arrested from time to time.
The maximum punishment under Section 309 of IPC is a one-year jail term.