Irom Chanu sharmila, the “iron lady of Manipur” was set free from the hospital recently where she had been detained for 14 years.
The Manipuri Court decriminalised her protest against AFSPA and dismissed the attempted suicide charge leveled against her, over which she was in custody for the last 14 years. The civil rights activist had gone on a hunger strike on November 2, 2000, refusing food and water to protest against the violence of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Manipur and demanding their complete repeal. Her fast unto death began after 10 civilians including women and children were killed by Assam Rifles personnel at Malom area near Imphal airport. AFSPA allows the military to do whatever it wants at gunpoint. Once the law is enforced on an area declared disturbed, the armed forces become unaccountable to anyone for whatever brutalities they commit on people.
She has been called "the world's longest hunger striker" and was force fed by a tube through her left nostril to her stomach, for 14 years. The strike is still on and Sharmila, with even more commitment, has said that she would continue the fast until her demands were met. Sharmila had said that she was following Mahatma Gandhi’s principle of non-violence and should not be “discriminated” against. She had questioned the government as to why it was scared to grant her the fundamental rights of a human being. The 42 year old activist had earlier said that she was a simple woman who wishes to live a normal life; but was continuing her protest for the society and the rights of a democratic citizen.
Despite her courage and the struggle still going on, Sharmila would have to deal with the health risks as well as the bigwigs in the government party who would look for ways to stop her. Prime Minister Modi had declined her wish to meet him in person clearly proving the government’s stance on the issue. The fact that the human rights activist has been fighting alone for the basic rights of the people, is a disgrace to the government. It should give the matter grave concern and implement steps to put an end to the years- long battle for justice.