Indian activist to end 16 years of protest fasting, decides to join coming election

  • Irom Sharmila, 43-year-old from the Indian state of Manipur, has been fasting for nearly 16 years
  • Sharmilla has been fasting since November 2000 as mark of her protest against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in Manipur
  • After completion of fasting, she will join the elections in Manipur as an independent candidate

NEW DELHI, India – An Indian activist who is fasting for nearly 16 years, decided to end her protest due to lack of government’s response, and rather join the upcoming election.

The Times of India mentioned in their article that 43-year old activist Irom Sharmila, from the Indian state of Manipur, has been fasting for nearly 16 years, has announced recently to end her fasting on August 9.

Sharmilla has been fasting since November 2000 as a mark of her protest against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in Manipur. The activist announced to the media outside the Imphal Court on Tuesday that she wanted to join elections after breaking her fast.

Sources who are close to Sharmilla said she would run as an independent candidate.

Famously known as Iron Lady of Manipur, Sharmila started a non-violent protest against the killing of 10 people by the troops of Assam Rifles in the outskirt of Imphal 16 years ago.

On numerous times, the government had tried to force-feed her through a nasogastric tube connection. Sharmilla had been arrested under Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code for an attempt to commit suicide.

“I will break my fast as the government has failed to give any positive response… I will fight elections to resolve the issues,” she said.

An article by The Hindu said Sharmilla did not have plans to break her fast until AFSPA is repealed, however, seeing the government’s failure to dissolve AFSPA made her do the hard decision of ending her protest fasting and join the election as an independent candidate.

Sharmila is a follower of Gandhi thoughts and said “Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation, had resorted to fasts while making certain demands.”

The AFSPA of 1958 covers a large chunk of the North Eastern states and Kashmir. It gives unrestrained powers to security forces, allowing them to search, raid or shoot anyone suspicious.

Sharmila’s is one of the strongest voices against the Act that abuses human rights heavily.

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