Manipur sessions court orders Irom Sharmila Chanu's release

Last Updated: Tue, Aug 19, 2014 17:45 hrs

A sessions court in Manipur has ordered the release of activist Irom Sharmila, who has been on a hunger strike for over a decade and is currently under house arrest.

Saying that the attempt to suicide case against the feisty human rights activist could not be proved by the prosecution, the court ordered the immediate release of Chanu.

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.

Irom Sharmila Chanu was born on March 14,1972). On November 2, 2000, she decided to go on an indefinite hunger strike after ten persons were shot and killed at a bus stand in 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 Indian 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.

The "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. (ANI)

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