Manipur’s ‘Iron Lady’ Irom Chanu Sharmila, who has been on a hunger strike for the past 16 years demanding repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), on Tuesday announced her decision to end the fast on August 9 and contest state Assembly elections.
Here is all ypu need to know about the Iron Lady of Manipur.
Who is Irom Sharmila?
Irom Chanu Sharmila, popularly called as ‘Iron Lady of Manipur’, is a civil rights and political activist. She has been on hunger strike since 2000 against the misuse of AFSPA by the military forces. 44-year-old is the youngest of nine siblings and gave up her dreams of becoming a doctor and decided to fight against the human rights violation.
All this while, she has been fighting against Armed Forces Special Power Act, which was passed by Parliament in 1958 giving special powers to the Indian Armed Forces in seven sister states in the North east which they considered as “disturbed areas”. According to this Act, the armed forces have the power to search anyone’s property and arrest people without any warrant.
Irom Sharmila On Years-Long Hunger Strike?
In November 2000, the Assam Rifles military forces shot and killed 10 innocent civilians at a bus stop in a small town called Malom. Among the dead ones, there was was a 1988 National Child Bravery Award winner, and this incident known as the Malom massacre triggered Irom Sharmila to go on a hunger strike against AFSPA.
Her demand is that the Indian government repeal the AFSPA that gave the army extra powers in Manipur. She was also arrested and later charged her for attempting suicide. She was force fed through a nasal tube when her health deteriorated. In 2006, she along with other activists conducted a hunger strike at Jantar Mantar in Delhi, but was again arrested.
Her hunger strike got international attention and members of the European parliament wrote to the Indian government seeking modification of the Act.