Manipuri activist Irom Chanu Sharmila&’s 16-year-long hunger strike against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act will came to an end on Tuesday as the 44-year-old announced that she aspires to become the state’s chief minister to revoke the controversial law.
"If I become the CM, I will get AFSPA revoked. I need power to end this draconian law. I know nothing about politics but there is no democracy in Manipur," Sharmila told media after ending her agitation.
She was earlier produced before a judicial magistrate in a local court. The court released her from judicial custody after she broke her fast. The court told her that she was free to do whatever she wanted after she furnished her bail bond.
Known as the Iron Lady of Manipur, Sharmila has declined food or drink for the last 16 years, seeking repeal of the controversial AFSPA and has been on forcible nose feeding.
Though a large number of her supporters and women activists are supporting Sharmila and will be meeting her, there is a prominent section of people in her home state that aren’t too pleased by her decision to end her agitation.
Sharmila&’s 84-year-old mother Shakhi Devi will not be meeting her.
Asked if she would speak to her mother, Sharmila said no and added that only when he achieves his goal will she meet her mother. However, she refused to clarify what exactly her goal was.
Sharmila began a hunger strike in November 2000, following the killing of 10 civilians by security forces. She was arrested by the Manipur government in 2000 under section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, which prohibits an attempt to commit suicide.
In March 2016 she was acquitted by the Patiala House Court in Delhi in a case of attempted suicide registered in 2006 when she undertook a fast-unto-death at Jantar Mantar in Delhi.
However, the rights activist continued her fast in her security room in Imphal’s JN Institute of Medical Sciences, a kind of sub-jail.
Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code permits the authorities to detain her for one year and at the end of each year she is ritually released. The state government spends over Rs.80,000 per month over her medication and nose feeding, and security.