India's 'Iron lady' released after eight years in jail
An Indian woman who has been in prison since 2000 for an indefinite protest fast against a controversial anti-terror law was released late on Saturday, ahead of International Women's Day.Updated: Mar 08, 2009 14:06 IST
An Indian woman who has been in prison since 2000 for an indefinite protest fast against a controversial anti-terror law was released late on Saturday, ahead of International Women's Day, officials said.
Irom Sharmila, also known as the Iron Lady of Manipur, is an iconic figure in India. She has been demanding the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) which gives troops sweeping powers to kill suspected rebels and immunity from prosecution.
The law has led to widespread rights abuses in the northeast, where India is fighting decades of insurgency, human rights activists say.
Sharmila said she would continue her struggle after her release in Imphal, capital of the revolt-torn northeastern state of Manipur.
"I am determined to continue my fast. I am convinced that people are with me and with their support our dream will come true," Sharmila told a large crowd that had gathered to greet her.
Sharmila, in her late thirties, began her strike in October 2000 after soldiers shot dead 10 young men in a small town in Manipur.
During her prison days, she was force-fed through a nasal tube.
The 1958 law applies only in Indian Kashmir and insurgency-affected northeast India. Human rights groups say it has given the security forces a licence to kill, torture and rape with impunity.