Irom Chanu Sharmila today broke her 16-year-long fast against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) today. Sharmila wants to change her strategy and fight elections to achieve her objective as now she believes the fast will not have any effect on AFSPA. Sharmila, ‘Iron Lady of Manipur’, is a civil rights and political activist who went on a hunger strike in 2000 against the misuse of AFSPA by Indian military forces.
Here’s all you need to know about her and her fight.
1. The hunger strike against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act which began in Manipur’s Malom by Irom Sharmila has been on since November 5, 2000. She declared she would give up eating and drinking or even look in the mirror until the act was repealed. She was then arrested charged with ‘attempt to commit suicide’.
2. Assam Rifles convoy on November 2000, 10 innocent civilians in a shooting at a town called Malom. The incident, also know as Malom massacre, claimed the life of a National Child Bravery Award winner. This incident instigated Sharmila to go on a hunger strike as a symbol of protest.
3. Manipur has long been suffering from violence and insurgence since many armed forces and their warfare have affected the region. It includes, terrorism as well as government sponsored warfare.
4. AFSPA was passed by the government in the year 1958 centre passed AFSPA. The law grants security forces the authority to arrest people, and search properties and even use deadly forces if there is even a reasonable doubt of the people acting against the government. Sharmila has written letters to earlier PM Manmohan Singh and now PM Narendra Modi but that has not been of much use. Hence she has decided to enter the system.
5. Sharmila has been fed through the nose in order to keep her alive. Her health has only deteriorated since then. She was again arrested in March this year. Since 2000, Sharmila has not combed her hair and has met her mother only once.
6. Though Sharmila was released from judicial custody she said she still wouldn’t go to her house or meeting till the act is repealed.
7. Two of the parties had earlier requested her to stand in elections but she refused to stand in the national elections.
8. She began a fast-unto-death at Jantar Mantar in the year 2006. She was charged again with ‘attempt to commit suicide.’
9. Irom is the winner of Gwangju Prize for Human Rights. Asian Human Rights Commission has given her a lifetime achievement award.
WATCH: Irom Sharmila to break 16 year long fast
10. 44 year old Sharmila was born in 1972 grew up in Manipur along with all her nine older siblings. She wanted to become an doctor before she decided to fight for Human Rights in her state.