Manipur’s anti-AFSPA activist Irom Chanu Sharmila was freed from annual detention on Monday, two days before her 40thbirthday, setting the stage for her re-arrest routine to be played out again.
Sharmila, who has been on hunger strike for the last 11 years — and is force-fed — for repealing of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, is ritually arrested, freed and re-arrested on the charge of attempting to commit suicide. Imprisonment for the offence may extend to one year.
“I will continue the strike,” Sharmila said after being freed by the district court in Imphal East. “I want a leadership (government) which pays attention to people’s suffering.”
Sharmila, who is confined to a hospital during detention, had launched her fast on November 4, 2000, two days after security forces killed 10 people at Malom on the outskirts of Imphal.
Sharmila, escorted by local women, has moved to a thatched house near the Jawaharlal Nehru hospital in the state capital. This has been her schedule over the years, while awaiting re-arrest.
Questioning the arrest merry-go-round, Th Suresh, president of the All Manipur Students’ Union, asked, “How long will they continue like this? The government should bring an amicable solution instead of releasing and re-arresting our sister Sharmila to conceal her struggle.”