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It’s her life, says family after Irom Sharmila applies for marriage registration

Iron Sharmila had gone on an indefinite hunger strike against the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and ended her fast last year. She had contested the Thoubal assembly seat but managed to get only 90 votes.

india Updated: Jul 13, 2017 17:08 IST
KV Lakshmana and Rahul Karmakar
KV Lakshmana and Rahul Karmakar
Hindustan Times, Chennai/ Guwahati
Irom Sharmila,Marriage Registration,AFSPA
Irom Sharmila after she broke her fast in August 2016.(Saumya Khandelwal/HT PHOTO)

Irom Sakhi was “neither happy nor sad” when her daughter Irom Sharmila ended her marathon fast on August 9 last year and ceased to be Manipur’s iconic silent voice against the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958.

The 85-year-old had a similar feeling when she was told Sharmila and her long-time British beau Desmond Coutinho went to the sub-registrar’s office in Kodaikanal on Wednesday morning to apply for marriage registration.

Kodaikanal is a picturesque hill station in Dindigul district of Tamil Nadu where Sharmila, 45, intends to settle down.

Sub-registrar S Rajesh confirmed receiving the couple’s application and said the marriage can be solemnised if there are no objections to the proposal within a month of registration. The Special Marriage Act provides this 30-day window.

“We will wed in Kodai after 30 days,” Sharmila told reporters in Kodaikanal on Wednesday.

Read | Emotional Irom Sharmila quits politics after debut debacle

Read | 10 things you need to know about ‘Iron Lady’ Irom Sharmila

Irom Singhajit, her elder brother, said “it is her life and, as an adult, she has the right to take her own decision”.

“We did not object when she decided to go on an indefinite hunger strike against a massacre by Assam Rifles in November 2000, and we finally accepted her decision to end it last year. Why should we come in her way now?” Singhajit said from Manipur capital Imphal.

Singhajit, 53, is one of Sharmila’s nine siblings and a trustee of the Just Peace Foundation that used to handle her struggle against AFSPA.

Other Manipur-based rights group such as Human Rights Alert too have said they see no reason why Sharmila cannot continue with her personal journey after giving much of her youth to a people’s cause.

A heartbroken Sharmila had left Manipur after losing the assembly election in March. She had contested the Thoubal assembly seat against former chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh but managed to get only 90 votes.

Read | After 16 years of fasting, Irom Sharmila continues her fight on a cycle

Read | Being Irom Sharmila: The icon who dared to be human and spoke of love

Three other contestants of People’s Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA), the “political party with a difference” that she had co-founded, were routed too.

She spent the first few weeks to rejuvenate in a Kerala holistic healthcare centre but shifted to Tamil Nadu after a brief visit to Manipur.

She rented an accommodation at Pethuparai village near Kodaikanal in June and is believed to have opened a bank account. She has also applied for an Aadhaar card and other documents needed to establish that one of the couple has lived in a location where they intend to get married.

Sharmila said marriage will not kill the civil activist in her.

“I will continue my struggle, but not as a politician. I will not be in politics but will continue to lend support to PRJA to make it a stronger party. And I will lobby with global bodies to pressure India to scrap the draconian AFSPA.”

Her short-term plan after marriage includes participating in the International Youth Conference in Odisha in September.

First Published: Jul 13, 2017 11:56 IST