Sharmila fasting against AFSPA not onto death, Defence Witness asserts

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NEFIS activists with Irom Chanu Sharmila.
NEFIS activists with Irom Chanu Sharmila.

IMPHAL, October 7: For the second consecutive day today, Irom Chanu Sharmila was produced before Akash Jain, the Metropolitan Magistrate, at the Patiala House Court, New Delhi in connection with the case no. 476/02/2012 FIR No. 222/2006 Parliament Street Police Station.

Human Rights Alert executive director Babloo Loitongbam deposed before the Magistrate as the only defence witness and was cross examined by the Public Prosecutor, according to a press release of the HRA.

It said her matter was listed as item no. 43 by the court.

In his statement before the court, Babloo Loitongbam stated that he has known Irom Sharmila for more than 20 years for her social and political activism, it said.

He stated that he came to Delhi along with Sharmila on October 4, 2006 as she wanted to take her struggle to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 to Delhi and generate national interest, it said.

He told the court, on arrival they went to Gandhi Samadhi to pay respect, it said.

He had also said that in the evening they continued the dharna at the Jantar Mantar and they sought an appointment with the then Prime Minister and the Home Minister, it said.

Babloo also said that on the evening of October 6, 2006, some people came to check her health condition, but she told them that she does not need it, according to the statement.

Later a group of police personnel cordoned off the area, her supporters surrounded her but the police dispersed the supporters by the use of illegal force in violation of the fundamental rights of peaceful assembly and protest, he said, according to the statement.

He said thereafter Sharmila was arrested under a false charge under section 309 of the IPC (attempt to commit suicide), it added.

During the cross-examination by the additional Public prosecutor, Babloo firmly denied the suggestion that Sharmila was on a fast unto death on that particular day and explained that she was fasting until the AFSPA was repealed, it said.

There is an attempt to falsely represent her struggle by the State, he told the court, it said.

Further according to the statement, eminent social activist Medha Patkar had met the anti- Armed Forces Special powers Act 1958 crusader in the court house yesterday morning and suggested that a mass movement be started along with the women street vendors of Manipur.

It said in the evening yesterday, another eminent activist Swami Agnivesh visited her in Tikendrajit Bhavan and had an hour long conversation during which he assured her all support and solidarity.

The court has fixed December 15 and 16 for the date of the final hearing on the case, it said.

Meanwhile, according to a statement of the North East Forum for Internation Solidarity, activists of the forum met Irom Sharmila today and expressed their solidarity with her struggle against the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA).

It said NEFIS has pledged to wage a nationwide struggle against this draconian and anti-people law. AFSPA grants special powers to the armed forces, the most controversial being the legal immunity it provides to army officers, it said.

AFSPA is an anti-people, oppressive act, the law gives special powers for detaining, using lethal force and entering and searching premises without warrant. North-East Forum for International Solidarity (NEFIS) demands that AFSPA should be repealed from all states, ending the miseries of the people, it said.

AFSPA has been condemned nationally and internationally by all democratic and justice loving people. NEFIS calls upon all the communities of north east to raise a united struggle against AFSPA, the NEFIS statement said.

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