Imphal, Aug 20 ANI | 1 year ago

Human Rights activist Irom Sharmila Chanu broke down after she was today released from Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital in Imphal following the orders of a sessions court in Manipur.

Chanu has been on a hunger strike for over a decade and is currently under house arrest.

"I need people's mass support. What I want from the government is getting my demand fulfilled ," said Chanu.

The court had ordered her release earlier, saying that the attempt to suicide case against the feisty human rights activist could not be proved by the prosecution.

The 'Iron Lady of Manipur', as she is popularly known, has been on a hunger strike since November, 2000 demanding the repealing of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, which has been described by activists as an infringement on human rights.

In November 2, 2000, IroM Sharmila decided to go on an indefinite hunger strike after ten persons were shot and killed at a bus stand in Malom, a town in Manipur's Imphal Valley.

The incident, known as the "Malom Massacre", was allegedly committed by the Assam Rifles, one of the paramilitary forces operating in the state. The victims included Leisangbam Ibetombi, a 62-year old woman, and 18-year old Sinam Chandramani, a 1988 National Child Bravery Award winner.

Sharmila, who was 28 at the time when she began to fast, has been repeatedly arrested by police in various states on grounds that she was attempting to commit suicide by neither taking food nor water. She has been on this indefinite fast for over 500 weeks.

"Attempt to commit suicide" is unlawful under Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and in view of her poor health, Sharmila has had to wear a nasogastric tube to keep herself alive while under arrest.

Her primary demand is the complete repeal of the AFSPA, which has been blamed for violence in Manipur and other parts of northeast India.

In October 2013 Amnesty India recognized Sharmila as a "'Prisoner of Conscience', who is being held solely for a peaceful expression of her beliefs.

(Posted on 21-08-2014)

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