Charged with attempt to suicide, Sharmila pleads not guilty


NEW DELHI, March 4 (agencies): A Delhi court, on Monday, framed charges against Irom Sharmila for allegedly attempting to commit suicide during her fast until death in the national Capital in 2006. She has refused to plead guilty before court.

Irom Sharmila, who arrived in Delhi on Sunday, compared her state Manipur with Jammu and Kashmir and praised Omar Abdullah for standing up for his people.

She said while Abdullah attacked the Indian government over the hanging of Afzal Guru, her own state’s chief minister, Okram Ibobi Singh, remains silent on the issue of the alleged atrocities committed in the name of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

Sharmila, however, expressed confidence that the controversial law will be repealed through a sustained fight.

She is in the Capital to appear in the Patiala Court on Monday on charges of attempt to suicide.

“My protest is not an attempt to suicide but a means to demonstrate without violence. In Manipur, due to AFSPA, violence has become the means of administration. The Indian government must repeal it,” she said. Sharmila, who has been on a hunger strike for the past 12 years, sought an end to her judicial remand. The Iron Lady of Manipur also questioned the government’s silence over AFSPA and said, “The government is afraid of the Army.”

Sharmila, who is staying at the Manipur Bir Tikendrajit House in Chanakyapuri earlier spoke to reporters from behind the entrance gate as security did not allow her to interact freely.

Metropolitan magistrate Akash Jain framed charges against her for attempt to commit suicide and issued a showcause notice to Sharmila after she refused to plead guilty.

She told the court that she “loves life and does not want to take her life”. Sharmila, who was present in the court, refused that she attempted to commit suicide at Jantar Matnar in 2006. She said: “I only want justice.”

“If I wanted to commit suicide I might have died. My protest was non-violent for my demand, just to live as human being,” she added.

She appeared before the court under IPC 309 (attempt to commit suicide) for fasting at Jantar Mantar in Delhi.

The court hearing the case told Sharmila: “We respect you but the law of land does not permit you to take your life.” When asked if she tried to commit suicide she replied “No”.

Sharmila`s lawyers said since she has already been in custody for six years, she should be let off because under section 309 the period of imprisonment is only one year.

They also told the court to treat Sharmila`s case a special case and not just like any other hearing.  The court earlier told her counsel to explain to her that maximum punishment in the case was a few months to a year and that she has been in custody for more than 6 years, so if she pleads guilty, the case would be settled Monday. Sharmila was charged under Section 309 when she brought her fast and protest against the AFSPA to Delhi six years ago.

The social activist had then continued her fast and refused to take any medical intervention.

Her deteriorating condition had forced the Delhi Police to file charges against her and continue her force feeding at the AIIMS, before she was allowed to go back to Imphal.

Meanwhile, her supporters protested outside gate no. 2 of Patiala House Court, which was closed by police. They raised slogans for justice and against AFSPA.

Demanding revocation of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, (AFSPA) over 30 supporters of Manipur`s “Iron Lady” Irom Sharmila Chanu gathered outside Patiala House Court on Monday morning and raised slogans in support of her campaign.

Djorgi, a student from northeast said that Irom Sharmila is not just an activist fighting for a cause in the northeast, but a symbol of “woman power”.

“She is not a terrorist. Nobody has been allowed to meet her and she is not allowed to meet anybody. The way she is being confined for such a long time is violation of human rights,” Alok Singh, from Krantikari Yuva Sanghatan, said.


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