Sharmila released, resumes hunger strike

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IMPHAL, August 20: After having being detained in the judicial custody for over 13 years for allegedly attempting to commit suicide, Anti-Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) activist, Irom Chanu Sharmila on Wednesday was released from JN Hospital security ward, for the first time, free from any charges earlier lodged against her.

Sharmila was released around 6.14 pm. She was freed, following a judgement by the Session Court, which ruled that there was not enough evidences to prove that she was attempting to commit suicide and observed that Sharmila’s demand is a political demand through lawful means for repealing a valid Act.

Soon after stepping out from the security ward, Sharmila’s first word to the media was “I need mass support from my people”, her eyes swelling with tears, indicating she is not just about to give up her protest.

After the brief interaction with the media persons within the JNIMS campus she along with the trustees of the Just Peace Foundation and representatives of Sharmila Kanba Lup (SAKAL) headed straight for the SAKAL temporary camp near the JNIMS hospital and resumed with her protest.

“I feel very happy in winning this case as it proves that I am right, what I am doing is for the sake of justice. In return what I want from my people is mass support rather than songs singing my glory. That is what I need at the moment”, continued Sharmila.

Further responding to queries raised by media persons whether she ever expected to be set free, Sharmila said she loves freedom as much as others but what she desire was freedom with success.

When asked about her expectations from the present NDA Government and its leader Narendra Modi, Sharmila observed that India being a democratic country, the Government will concede to the demand of the people if a unified voice against AFSPA is raised adding that “Government is for the people, of the people, by the people”.

While hailing the Manipur Session Court judgement of cancelling her detention under section 309 alleging her of attempting to commit suicide, Human Rights Activist who is also a trustee of the Just Peace Foundation, Loitongbam Babloo said that since the judgement of the concerned court has validated Sharmila’s demand as political demand, the time has come to carefully and judicially consider Sharmila’s act, instead of criminalising it.

Further revealing that Sharmila has personally wrote to the Prime Minister of India and acknowledgement for the same has been received, Babloo divulged that the focus will now be shifted to the Centre.

Meanwhile, justifying on Government move of arresting Sharmila and subsequent detention under Judicial custody, deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam clarified that his Government has no personal enmity with Sharmila or her protest. However, he maintained that the Government was only concerned with Sharmila’s health.

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