Hope for Sharmila as govt de-criminalises ‘attempt to suicide’
Delhi’s decision to decriminalise ‘attempt to suicide’ by taking Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code off the statute book could earn freedom for marathon hunger striker Irom Sharmila.india Updated: Dec 11, 2014 00:08 IST
Delhi’s decision to decriminalise ‘attempt to suicide’ by taking Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code off the statute book could earn freedom for marathon hunger striker Irom Sharmila.
Members of her family and human rights activists are hopeful about her possible release after Section 309 is dropped to deny the police in Manipur a reason to arrest her for attempting to commit suicide by fasting.
Sharmila, 42, has been force-fed a liquid diet through a nasal tube since she began her fast-unto-death on 4 November 2000 seeking the repeal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act of 1958 that gives soldiers the ‘license to kill’. She began fasting after Assam Rifles personnel gunned down 10 civilians at Malom village near Imphal on November 2 that year.
She is released periodically only to be rearrested for continuing to fast.
“We hope she will be released from jail soon. We have discussed the development with our lawyer and are also gearing up to intensify our movement against AFSPA,” Irom Singhajit, her brother, said.
Sharmila Kanba Lup, an umbrella organisation fighting for the fasting crusader, welcomed the government decision, as did Human Rights Alert (HRA), an Imphal-based rights group.
“This is a humane move. Section 309 has been abused for years to detain Sharmila, who cannot be criminalised after it is buried for good,” Onil Kshetrimayum, HRA functionary, said.
Others, however, said there is still some way to go for suicide to be decriminalised. “We have to wait and watch unless the final amendment comes into force,” senior advocate Khaidem Mani said. He has been defending Sharmila, arguing that her’s was not a case of attempting to commit suicide but protesting against AFSPA.