Irom Sharmila and her undeterred fight against AFSPA: Explained

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Irom Sharmila
Thirteen years after she began fast unto death, demanding the revocation of the Armed Forces (Special Powers Act), a Sessions court in Manipur on Tuesday ordered release of human rights activist Irom Sharmila saying there is no reason to believe that she wanted to commit suicide. The court said the charge of attempt to commit suicide has been wrongly framed against Sharmila. It is just an allegation, so she can't be kept under arrest and should be released immediately.

Irom Sharmila- a simple girl turned world's longest hunger striker

Irom Sharmila Chanu also known as the "Iron Lady of Manipur".

Sharmila began her hunger strike on November 4, 2000 after she saw Assam Rifles Jawans randomly gunning down nine people in a bus stop nearly 9 km from Imphal.

The 43-year-old Sharmila began her fast within hours of the incident. Three days later, she was arrested by the police and charged with attempt to suicide.

She has been in custody since then and is being forced-fed through her nose in the security ward of the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal.

Sharmila had been released every year and then re-arrested a day later under Section 309 for going ahead with her fast.

In October 2006, Sharmila even came to Jantar Mantar after being sneaked into Delhi by a human rights organisation.

In 2014, she was offered to contest in Lok Sabha polls from Congress and Aam Aadmi Party separately. But, she denied the ticket saying she is activist not a politician.

She is a recipient of awards like the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights, Mayillama Award of the Mayilamma Foundation, Rabindranath Tagore Peace Prize of the Indian Institute of Planning and Management.

What is she fighting for?

Sharmila began her fight when she saw the atrocities of the AFPSA firsthand in 2000. Since then, she is demanding AFPSA to be repeal from Manipur. She said the Act is responsible for the violence in Manipur and other parts of northeast India.

What is AFSPA?

AFSPA was passed on September 11, 1958. This law grants special powers to the armed forces in "disturbed areas".

It was implemented in 1958 to curb the secessionist activities of the militants.

AFSPA is active in the disturbed areas of North- East India and Jammu and Kashmir.

The Act gives powers to security forces to raid and even kill on mere suspicion.

Over the years, the Army has resisted moves to revoke AFSPA from terrorism-hit States.

The Act has received criticism for alleged concerns about human rights violations in the regions of its enforcement, where arbitrary killings, torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment have alleged to have happened.

In November, 2004, the Centre constitutes five-member committee to review AFSPA.

In June, 2005, the committee recommends revocation of AFSPA.

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