Sharmila, also known as "Iron Lady of Manipur", has been on hunger strike since Nov 2, 2000 demanding that the Indian government repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from the state of Manipur. Continuing with her fast, Sharmila has refused to accept any award unless and until her dream is fulfilled.
On Saturday, Oct 27 at a function organised in Kolkata, a trust had decided to confer the first Kovilan Smaraka Activist India National Award in memory of Malayalam poet AA Ayyappan upon Sharmila. However, Sharmila, who is also a poet, refused to accept the award.
"Sharmila will not accept any awards until she has succeeded in her mission," said her brother Irom Singhajit. However, Singhajit, who attended the function, returned the award and asked the organisers "to keep it in their custody and present it to Irom Sharmila when she has achieved her goal."
The decision not to accept any awards was taken by Sharmila earlier this month.
"We appreciate the award and have asked them to keep it in their custody," he said.
Sharmila started her hunger strike in Nov 2000 after the "Malom Massacre" - an incident in which 10 innocent persons were killed by personnel of the Assam Rifles.
She was arrested by the police and when her condition began to deteriorate, she was transferred to the Jawaharlal Institute of Medical Sciences where she is force fed.
The law under which Sharmila is detained allows the police to detain her for a year, after which she is released.
As she refuses to break her world-record fast, she is again arrested and then produced in court every 15 days for the extension of her custody. She has been the recipient of several awards including the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights in 2007 and the Rabindranath Tagore Peace Prize in 2010.