On July 26, the 44-year-old activist stunned everyone following her announcement that she would end her fast on August 9 to fight the ensuing State assembly polls in 2017 besides entering marital life. She was addressing the media after a Court appearance here. Sharmila is currently facing charges under IPC section 309 (attempt to commit suicide).
The world’s longest hunger striker had explained that the Government was ignoring her 16-year-old crusade against Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) and that was suppressing her voice which ultimately prompted her to change her track and explore a new opportunity in the political arena.
On the rights crusader Sharmila’s decision, Human Rights Alert (HRA) executive director Babloo Loitongbam commented that Sharmila’s hunger strike has had little impact on the present Government. He said fasting for another 16 years by the activist can guarantee nothing.
“We don’t see any difference in her movement now. The foundation will remain a staunch supporter of Sharmila’s campaign always as long as it fights against the draconian law. Let her take her new way of initiating a political strategy to get AFSPA repealed to end the impunity enjoyed by security forces under the military Act,” the JPF trustee Onil added. JPF has been working for promoting Sharmila’s cause for years.
According to Onil, the State Government has refused the Foundation to meet Sharmila despite its repeated attempts. He said even the Sharmila Kanba Lup (SAKAL) was not getting permission till today.
Sharmila, also known as ‘Iron Lady,’ began her fast in 2000 after the ‘Malom Massacre’ in which Assam Rifles shot dead 10 civilians. In 1980 the whole of Manipur came under AFSPA.