Irom Sharmila to continue fast unto death

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Imphal, Feb 25 (IANS) Rights activist Irom Sharmila, who has been on a 15-year-long hunger strike to press for the abrogation of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, has said she would continue her fast unto death.

At the court of the chief judicial magistrate, Imphal west, where she was presented on Wednesday, Sharmila told reporters that she would continue her fast at Kangla, the old capital of Manipur, through March 1 when she is expected to be released.

On fast since November 4, 2000, she has been charged — more than once — with attempt to commit suicide under Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code.

As the law court had released her as not guilty last year, her lawyer hopes that this time too she will be set free.

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Since the District and Sessions Court did not find her guilty, it ordered the court of the chief judicial magistrate to release her.

The court released her on January 22, 2015.

However, the police re-arrested her two days later as she continued her fast at the women’s market in Imphal.

Since the Act under which she is arrested provides detention for one year only at one go, Sharmila is ritually released at the end of each year.

She was once released on October 5, 2006. She slipped away to Delhi to carry on her fast at Jantar Mantar. Delhi Police arrested her and a trial is going on at the Patiala House court on the charge of trying to commit suicide.

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Sharmila is lodged in a security ward of Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences here. She is guarded round-the-clock by jail, police and hospital staff. The government is spending about Rs.70,000 a month on her medication and feeding her through the nose.

Several times she could not be produced in the Patiala House court as the cash-strapped government could not arrange travel expenses in time for Sharmila and her entourage.

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