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Irom Sharmila ends 16-year fast against AFSPA

Source: PTI
Last updated on: August 09, 2016 20:38 IST
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The 44-year-old iconic rights activist turned emotional as she licked honey from her palm to end the fast that she undertook in protest against the AFSPA. 

Breaking into tears, Manipur's 'Iron Lady' Irom Sharmila on  ended her 16-year-long hunger strike, the world's longest such campaign, and declared that she wants to become the chief minister so that she could repeal the contentious Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

Outside a government hospital, a room of which was turned into a jail for her, the 44-year-old iconic rights activist turned emotional as she licked honey from her palm to end the fast that she undertook in protest against the AFSPA.

During her fast she was force-fed through a nasal tube to keep her alive. Now the familiar Ryles tube hanging from her nose was missing as she broke the fast.

"I want to be the chief minister of Manipur to make positive changes..... If I become chief minister, the first thing I will do is to remove the AFSPA," she told reporters in Imphal.

"I need power. In Manipur politics is so dirty and everyone knows it. But people don't realise that the people are also involved in this dirtiness," Sharmila said, adding "I want to invite 20 independent candidates to join me and topple Chief Minister Ibobi".

Asked about Narendra Modi, she said, "Mr prime minister, you need non-violence in this age. Without this draconian law (AFSPA) you would be able to connect with us. PM Modi needs to follow the path of non-violence of Gandhiji".

She said that she would now stay in an Ashram and wouldn't need any security. "I don't like to be called a Goddess of Manipur. I am a human being," she said.

IMAGE: Irom Sharmila being brought to the court in Imphal on Tuesday. Photograph: PTI

Earlier in the day, Imphal West district's chief judicial magistrate Lamkhanpau Tonsing in his order said as the offence under section 309 (attempt to suicide) is a bailable offence he is inclined to allow her on bail on her furnishing a personal bond of Rs 10,000.

After the bond was furnished, it was accepted by the court and a release order issued.

She has been asked to appear before the court again on August 23.

Sharmila also expressed her intention not to start eating food immediately.

Doctors attending on her said that since she was on a liquid and semi-solid diet taken through a nasal tube for 16 years, she should avoid start eating solid food immediately.

"She has to start slowly so that her digestive system can once again start absorbing sold food," they said.

Sharmila wasn't shy in accepting that she knew nothing about the world of politics which would be her future from now.

"I know nothing about politics or academics. My education is very low but I want to convince our people," said the activist, often described as the "Prisoner of Conscience".

She also made it clear that she would not go home till her goal of repealing the AFSPA was achieved.

IMAGE: Irom Sharmila speaks to the media. Photograph: PTI

It was also evident that some of her supporters was against her quitting the hunger strike.

"Some people remain negative towards me over my decision. They don't want it (dropping fast). They want me to remain a symbol of resistance," she said.

Sharmila will soon contact the Election Commission in order to fight the Assembly election, due early next year, as an independent candidate.

Asked about her love life and boyfriend, who is a British national of Indian origin, she said it was her personal life and that it was natural to fall in love.

She said she would tie the knot only when her goal was finished.

On protest against AFSPA in Kashmir, she said that the people there should be given a chance for self-determination.

"In Manipur also people want self-determination. People want the basic necessities of life," Sharmila said.

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