The “Iron Lady” of Manipur, activist Irom Sharmila has announced on Tuesday that she is going to break her fast on August 9th, almost 16 years after she began her protest against the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the state.
Speaking to the media-persons outside Imphal Court, the 43-year-old said that she would also be contesting election from the state in 2017. She will be contesting as an independent candidate.
“I will break my fast as the government has failed to give any positive response… I will fight elections to resolve the issues,” she told ANI.
Sharmila has been fasting since November 2000 as a non-violent protest against the killing of 10 people by the troops of Assam Rifles in the outskirt of Imphal. The government had tried to force feed her through her nose on various occasions and she had been arrested under Section 309 of the IPC for attempt to commit suicide.
Activists, who support Sharmila, believe that this will be a new beginning in the history of Manipur’s fight against the AFSPA. She had earlier said that she would not break her fast until the repeal of AFSPA.
The AFSPA of 1958 covers a large chunk of area of the North Eastern states and Kashmir. It gives unrestrained powers to security forces. They can search, raid or shoot anyone suspicious. Sharmila’s is one of the strongest voices against of the Act that abuses human rights heavily.
Recently, the Supreme Court strongly rebuked the army, saying it cannot use “excessive or retaliatory force” even in troubled areas. With regards to Manipur, it said the situation was never a “war-like” threat to national security that warranted the act.
The apex court had also directed a probe into the alleged fake encounter killings.