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Sharmila released; continues stir
Correspondent IMPHAL, MAR 7:
Published on 8 Mar. 2009 1:11 AM IST
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Irom Sharmila Chanu was released on Saturday with the completion of yet another jail term for her fast demanding repeal of controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, colloquially known as the AFSPA. Before her release from jail custody, the Iron Lady of Manipur was produced before chief judicial magistrate, Imphal by Porompat police who registered a case against her on charges of attempting suicide after discharging her case in the Court. Sharmila was detained by Porompat police under IPC section 309 for one year in March last year. She has been on strike since 2000 for the removal of AFSPA. Sharmla, in a brief talk to the reporters here, expressed concern over Manipur government’s silence when chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah announced for the repeal of AFSPA from J&K. “I am not satisfied with the attitude of the government. In this juncture something must be done by the people of the state so as to bring the state in the right track,” she said. Manipur was, like many other princely states, annexed by the Indian Union in 1949 under disputed circumstances; there have been sporadic separatist movements since. Sharmila has been on a hunger strike demanding the repeal of the AFSPA, from November 2, 2000, after soldiers of the Indian Paramilitary Assam Rifles allegedly killed ten young Meitei men in Malom. Three days later, police arrested Sharmila on charges of “attempted suicide”, suicide or attempted suicide as being unlawful under Indian law and later transferred to judicial custody. To keep her alive, she was force-fed a cocktail of vitamins, minerals, laxatives, protein supplements and lentil soup through the nose with a rubber pipe. As part of a major set of concessions, including the transfer of the Kangla Fort to the government, a long-standing demand, Irom Chanu was released on October 2, 2006. She immediately made her way secretly to New Delhi and visited Gandhi’s mausoleum at Raj Ghat as her first act after being released, and commenced her fast at Jantar Mantar monument in Delhi. She was arrested once again and admitted to All India Institute of Medical Sciences’ hospital (AIIMS) but her brother, Irom Singhajit Singh, challenged the detention in New Delhi High Court. Also, as part of these concessions, AFSPA has been repealed from certain parts of urban Manipur. Activists against AFSPA have rejected these concessions as inadequate and demanded a complete repeal. On November 28, 2006, Irom Chanu removed the plastic pipe inserted into her nose to force-feed her, acting against the advice of AIIMS’ doctors, in order to resume her interrupted fast-unto-death demanding complete repeal of AFSPA. On December 2, 2006, Irom Chanu Sharmila rejected Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s assurance to ‘dilute’ AFSPA and announced her intention to continue her fast. In late November 2006, Iranian activist and Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi visited Irom Chanu at AIIMS and announced her public support for her campaign against AFSPA. Since then she has been on one year jail term only to be released and re-arrested after completion of one year. On the other hand the relay-hunger strike carrying out by the Sharmila Kanba Lup continued at PDA Complex, Porompat for the 88th day today. The protest has been staging by the womenfolk coming up from various places. Today also around 40 womenfolk carry out the protest.

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