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Rabi Banerjee
Rabi Banerjee

new beginning

After 16 years, Irom Sharmila to end fast, join politics and marry

Irom-Sharmila (File) Activist Irom Sharmila

Activist Irom Sharmila, who has been on a hunger strike against the alleged atrocities by the army in Manipur for nearly 16 years, is all set to end her fast on August 9.

Sharmila on Tuesday told the Imphal court, where she is ordered to mark attendance every 15 days, that she would end her hunger strike soon.

“I want to contest the next election as my fasting had no impact, neither on people of Manipur nor on politicians,” Sharmila told media persons outside the court before being taken away in a van.

The 44-year-old political activist also expressed her interest in marriage and starting a family.

Sharmila has been held in custody at a hospital and is being forced-fed through a nasal tube for more than 14 years now.

Her decision to fight elections has sent a shock wave across Manipur.

“Oh really! It’s absolutely stunning. I think we need to get a confirmation on this news,” said L. M. Devi, a member of save Sharmila movement organisation in Manipur.

Sharmila, meanwhile, did not comment on whether she would join any party or float her own to contest elections.

However, her decision to fight for her cause with political backing will indeed have a major political impact in Manipur, given that she enjoys a widespread respect and support in the state.

Sharmila began her hunger strike in November 2000 after 10 civilians, including two children, were shot dead by the Assam Rifles at a bus stop at Malom near Imphal airport. She had been demanding the repeal of the Armed Forces’ Special Power Act (AFSPA), which gives sweeping powers to the armed forces in conflict-hit northeastern state.

Earlier, Sharmila had refused to end her fast-unto-death until her demands were met. Her determination in her fight against AFSPA has earned her “the Iron Lady of Manipur” tag.

Sharmila is believed to have taken this decision without even taking her close aides into confidence.

“No I had no idea about it,” Babloo Loitongbom, her close aide, said.

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