Imphal, Aug 9: Born in one of the seven sister states, Manipur, Irom Chanu Sharmila, launched hunger-strike in display of protest against Arm Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958.
Born on March 14, 1972, she had been actively involved in local peace movements in the insurgency-hit Manipur. Sharmila was up against human right abuses both by the military forces and rebels.
On November 2, 2000, Assam Rifles, a unit of the Indian Paramilitary Forces allegedly shot civilians dead while they were waiting for buses at a bus stand in Malon, a town in Imphal valley. The victims included Leisangbam Ibetombi, a 62-year-old woman, and 18-year-old Sinam Chandramani, a 1988 National Bravery Award winner.
This tragic and inhumane incident enraged Irom. To protest against the alleged Malon Massacre, Sharmila began hunger fast. She kicked off her hunger protest on November 5, 2000.
The key demand of Sharmila was to repeal Arm Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, which provide immunity for the military personnel from being tried under the court of law for killings, they carry out in the insurgency-hit areas in the country.
Three days after she began her strike, she was arrested by the police and charged with an "attempt to commit suicide", which was unlawful under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) at that time, and was later transferred to judicial custody.
Her health deteriorated rapidly, and nasogastric intubation was forced on her from 21 November in order to keep her alive while under arrest.
Sharmila has been regularly released and re-arrested every year since her hunger strike began.
By 2004, Sharmila had become an "icon of public resistance." Following her procedural release on 2 October 2006, Irom Sharmila Chanu went to Raj Ghat, New Delhi, which she said was to pay floral tribute to my ideal, Mahatma Gandhi.
Later that evening, Sharmila headed for Jantar Mantar for a protest demonstration where she was joined by students, human rights activists, and other concerned citizens. 30 women protested naked in support of Sharmila in front of the Assam Rifles headquarters. They held a banner saying Indian Army rape us and all of them were imprisoned for three months.
On August 9, 2016, Sharmila ended her hunger strike that lasted for 16 years, expressing desire to join politics in a bid to repeal AFSPA.