Sharmila wants to become Manipur CM to remove AFSPA

By Iboyaima Laithangbam

Imphal : Irom Sharmila, who is set to end her 16-year-long fast, said on Tuesday that she wants to become Chief Minister of Manipur so that the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) can be removed from the state.

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Sharmila, who has been on fast unto death since November 4, 2000 demanding the repeal of AFSPA, told a court that she wants to end her fast. She was released on bail on Tuesday by L. Tonsing, chief judicial magistrate, Imphal west, where she was produced.
Later, she signed a bond for Rs 10,000.

She told waiting newspersons that she wants to become Chief Minister of Manipur to remove AFSPA. She will contest the 2017 assembly elections from Khurai Assembly constituency as an independent, she said.

Reports say that some local and national parties have sent feelers to her. She has not responded yet.

Sharmila said that she is looked at as a “strange person”.

However, doctors did not permit her to eat normal solid food immediately. One doctor said: “As she has been staying away from normal solid food for over 16 years, we have to take a step by step approach. It will take some days for her to resume normal food.”

It was officially announced that Sharmila will stay in hospital for the next three days under medical supervision. During the time, she will be administered solid food gradually and her health closely monitored.

From early morning, reporters from local, national and international media have been hanging around the J.N. Institute of Medical Sciences here where Sharmila has been staying for the last 16 years.

However she may have been disappointed that, besides some curious onlookers, there were no supporters. She was whisked away from the hospital to the court complex in a well-guarded ambulance. The court permitted her to speak to the press only after signing the bond.

Sharmila’s elder brother I. Shinghajit in an open letter to her made an impassioned appeal to her to continue the fast. Her mother Sakhi has refused to meet her.

Shinghajit says Sharmila was “influenced by some external forces”.

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.

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.