Irom Sharmila to marry long-time partner Desmond Coutanho after Manipur election | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Irom Sharmila to marry long-time partner Desmond Coutanho after Manipur election

india Updated: Mar 08, 2017 07:24 IST
Irom Sharmila

Irom Sharmila during a campaign trail with members of her party PRJA. (Rahul Karmakar/HT File Photo)

Human rights activist Irom Sharmila plans to get married after the upcoming assembly elections in Manipur in March.

Sharmila made the announcement while speaking to reporters in Imphal on Thursday.

Sharmila had launched her fast-unto-death on November 4, 2000, demanding the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958.

Desmond Coutanho, an NRI originally from Goa, and Sharmila have been together for years. Desmond was in Imphal whenever Sharmila was tried in court for attempting to commit suicide.

The couple have also faced resistance. Coutanho was beaten up by women activists on the court campus after he was seen holding Sharmila’s hand inside the courtroom. A woman activist had said: “In Manipur, it is socially not acceptable.” Coutanho had stopped visiting Imphal after the incident.

Manipur has been demanding the implementation of the Inner Line Permit system to restrict the entry and stay of non-locals.

Critics had questioned Coutanho’s presence and raised queries over how Sharmila was provided a cell phone and a laptop inside the prison. Since then, Coutanho has been critical of journalists, human rights activists and others who offering Sharmila help during the protracted campaign.

Sharmila on Thursday apologised for Coutanho’s rude behaviour.

She said: “On behalf of Desmond, I tender my apology and seek forgiveness.”

Vitriolic attacks by Coutanho were posted in the social media, which are expected to affect the upcoming polls in Imphal on March 4 and 8.

Sharmila will be contesting polls, including running against chief minister Okram Ibobi. She has promised to repeal AFSPA if she becomes the chief minister.

When Sharmila ended her fast on August 9, 2016, she had no place to stay in Imphal as many, including her mother, did not welcome her. She had to return to the security ward in the Imphal hospital, where she had been fasting.