Shunned by her own day after breaking fast, hospital to be Irom Sharmila’s home

Updated on Aug 11, 2016 12:52 AM IST

Hailed as an icon for her 16-year fast that won her legion of supporters at home and acclaim across the world, Irom Sharmila found herself unwanted within hours of calling off her protest on Tuesday.

Irom Sharmila breaks her 16 year long fast at a press conference at Jawahar Lal Nehru Hospital on Tuesday.(Saumya Khandelwal/HT Photo)
Irom Sharmila breaks her 16 year long fast at a press conference at Jawahar Lal Nehru Hospital on Tuesday.(Saumya Khandelwal/HT Photo)
Hindustan Times | ByRahul Karmakar & Sobhapati Samom, Imphal

The change has been swift and cruel.

Hailed as an icon for her 16-year fast that won her legions of supporters at home and acclaim across the world, Irom Sharmila found herself unwanted within hours of calling off her protest on Tuesday.

She appears to have paid a huge price for choosing a normal life.

Turned away from the area she grew up in and booed off the houses of activists, the 44-year-old will have to stay on for some time in the 8x12feet hospital ward that was her prison cell for almost 16 years.

The only thing missing from the ward is the feeding tube that was taken off when she ended her fast to take the political route to her struggle against the Armed Forces (Special powers) Act (Afspa).

Read | Fasting Irom Sharmila ‘ate’ a rich and balanced diet, thrice a day

A Manipur government spokesperson said chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh had on Tuesday night instructed the hospital to take care of Sharmila until she recovers her health and is safe enough.

Manipuri human rights activists protesting the decision of Irom Sharmila to end her hunger strike. (PTI file photo)
Manipuri human rights activists protesting the decision of Irom Sharmila to end her hunger strike. (PTI file photo)

Radical groups had asked Sharmila not to “abandon the struggle” in favour of electoral politics and reminded her of people “who got assassinated”.

Singh’s instruction came after police took her back to her ward in Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences (JNIMS) when activists did not let her stay anywhere else for “betraying their trust”.

On Wednesday, the Red Cross too offered Sharmila a temporary home. “We are doing this on humanitarian grounds,” Y Mohen, the international body’s representative in Manipur, said.

But Sharmila’s brother Irom Singhajit, 58, said she has the option of coming home. “But she has vowed not to come home until Afspa is repealed,” he told HT, adding the officials have told him that Sharmila would have to be in the hospital for at least three months.

Sharmila has a choice of seven houses belonging to the extended Irom family . But she is expected to stay where her mother Sakhi Devi is – with Singhajit, one of her five brothers.

Read | Radicals threaten Irom Sharmila for decision to join politics, wed ‘outsider’

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