‘Iron Lady’ Irom Sharmila set to end fast

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Imphal, Aug 9 (IANS) Rejecting appeals from some to continue her protest, Irom Sharmila told a court here on Tuesday that she will end her fast that began in 2000 against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.

Sharmila, 42, told Chief Judicial Magistrate in Imphal West L. Tonsing that she also wanted to speak to the media.

The court told her that she was free to do whatever she wanted after she furnished her bail bond.

The government has provided security to her as there is a perceived threat from the insurgents because of her change of stand, officials said.

Sharmila told the court on July 26 that she planned to end her fast on August 9, contest elections and also marry.

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Making the announcement in the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Imphal west, she further said that she will marry and contest the Manipur assembly elections next year as an independent candidate.

Sharmila, known as the Iron Lady of Manipur, was termed a Prisoner of Conscience by Amnesty International and won many prizes for her prolonged hunger strike.

She has declined food or drink for the last 16 years, seeking repeal of the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act which gives sweeping powers to the military in troubled areas.

She has been forcibly nose fed all these years.

Sharmila began her hunger strike in November 2000 following the killing of 10 civilians by security forces.

She was arrested by the Manipur government the same year on charges of attempting to commit suicide.

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She has always denied the charge, saying she is using the fast as a weapon.

As the prosecution failed to prove that she was trying to kill herself, the Chief Judicial Magistrate had ordered on February 29, 2016 that she be freed.

She was rearrested on the same charge as she continued the fast.

Sharmila has been appealing to all sections of the people to support her cause. But except for some reporters, there is nobody to meet her when she goes to the court every 15 days.



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