The AFSPA, or the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, confers special powers to armed forces to respond at will in the “disturbed areas” to maintain law and order. A number of activists have come out against the act — which is also in force in J&K.
Standing before the court with a pipe in her nose - through which she has been force-fed since November, 2000 - Sharmila told the court she would eat her first bite in over a decade right there and then if the “draconian” AFSPA was repealed by the Modi government.
Just a day before her appearance in Patiala House, Sharmila’s family had told the media that she hoped to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi while in Delhi in order to talk about the repealing of AFSPA. Sharmila, who appeared before the court in pursuance to a production warrant issued against her, claimed that wide scale discrimination was being meted out to the people from North East.
The 41-year-old activist-poet also told Metropolitan Magistrate Akash Jain that she never intended to commit suicide and her fast was just a protest against AFSPA. “I love my life very much,” she assured the judge as her eyes welled up. During the proceedings, when the court told her that she would be given exemption from physical appearance due to her health condition, Sharmila insisted on being there, saying “It is my case and I want to be physically present in the court during the proceedings.” The court, during the hearing, also recorded the statements of two policemen, who were arrayed as prosecution witnesses in the case in which the Manipuri activist is facing trial.
The court has fixed the matter for July 17 for recording of statements of other witnesses in the case.