Indian activist who raised voice against Kashmir violence ends hunger strike

Published: August 9, 2016
 Irom Sharmila began her protest after seeing the army kill 10 people at a bus stop near her home in Manipur. PHOTO: AFP

Irom Sharmila began her protest after seeing the army kill 10 people at a bus stop near her home in Manipur. PHOTO: AFP

GUWAHATI, INDIA: An Indian rights activist who has waged what is thought to be the world’s longest hunger strike ended her 16-year fast on Tuesday, two weeks after declaring she was entering politics.

Irom Sharmila, dubbed the “Iron Lady of Manipur” for her unwavering protest against rights abuses in the insurgency-hit northeast Indian state, was released on bail after she promised a court she would end her fast.

She had been held in judicial custody on charges of attempting suicide — still a criminal offence in India — and force-fed through a plastic tube.

“I have been released on bail following my personal written bond,” she told journalists outside the court in the Manipur capital Imphal.

Two Indian border guards, rebel killed in Kashmir

Irom is campaigning for the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which covers large parts of the northeast and the restive state of Kashmir.

It gives Indian forces sweeping powers to search, enter property and shoot on sight, and is seen by critics as a cover for human rights abuses.

The Indian government says security forces need the powers to help them battle multiple rebel groups whose long-standing demands range from secession to greater autonomy and land rights.

She began her fast on November 2, 2000 after allegedly witnessing the killing of 10 people by the army at a bus stop near her home.

Two weeks ago she surprised supporters by declaring she would end it to stand in 2017 state elections as an independent candidate.

“My fight so far has been all alone and so I have decided to wage a war against the (AFSPA) act democratically by becoming a lawmaker instead of continuing with my fast,” she told reporters at the time.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • point
    Aug 9, 2016 - 3:23PM

    indians be like she is also funded by ISIRecommend

  • Pankaj
    Aug 9, 2016 - 4:14PM

    First thing she was not fasting for Kashmir. She is against AFSPA in Manipur.

    Second she was not killing or hurting anybody so we India respect her for her struggle.

    And thrid she is giving up fast to join active plotics as she see an opportunity in Indian democratic system to put forward her voice.Recommend

  • karar
    Aug 9, 2016 - 5:07PM

    she is one of the most respected women in India. Her sacrifice will never going in vain. The decision of fighting election is right way to go. Others who want to fight AFSPA must follow her. Face it democracy is the only way to go forward. Good luck Chanu we all support and respect your decisions. Recommend

  • kartikey
    Aug 9, 2016 - 6:55PM

    Mentally so hard lady .now preparing to take Manipur ….very nice, have seen her some 10 years back…welcome…Recommend

  • Mahesh
    Aug 9, 2016 - 9:48PM

    She has Nothing to do with Kashmir.Recommend

  • Ramdar
    Aug 10, 2016 - 12:00AM

    @point: English of your comment is confusing to me. Iron Sharmila is highly respected in India, she is too principled to be funded by ISI. Separatists in eastern state used to get External support before 1971, totally stopped, thanks to PM Sheikh Hasina, also cooperation from Myanmar.Recommend

  • King Kong
    Aug 10, 2016 - 12:18AM

    Dear ET, please stop giving misleading headlines like Urdu newspapers. Irom Sharmila had only objected to AFSPA in Manipur. Please correct the headline! Recommend

  • np
    Aug 10, 2016 - 2:10AM

    ET – Wrong headline. Irom has nothing to do with Kashmir She is purely protesting ASFPA in Manipur. Please correct headline.

    @point:Why would we say that? Irom’s non-violent protest is something everyone respects.Recommend

  • Iqbal
    Aug 10, 2016 - 2:26AM

    ET’s reporting standards have gone downhill ever since it was taken over by the Taliban. In UK all the newspapers have splashed their papers with the news that the murderer of Mr Shah in Glasgow (an Ahmadiya) has been given life sentence. ET are not even reporting this and instead reports untrue stories. Totally childish – about time it grew up!!!
    Will this be printed?Recommend

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