The News Minute | August 19, 2014 | 5.53 pm IST
Force-fed and kept forcibly in a hospital ward for years, Irom Sharmila is could be released in a day or two, after a Manipur court ordered the state police to release her because it failed to establish charges of suicide.
The court said that she should be released if there was no other case against her, and it is unclear whether any legal proceedings are pending against her in other courts.
Irom Chanu Sharmila has been on an indefinite fast since for the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). Under the act, the armed forces are given powers to shoot even on suspicion and or arrest without a warrant.
Delivering the verdict on Tuesday, a sessions court in Manipur said that the state police had failed to establish that Sharmila wanted to commit suicide as defined under Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code. She has been force-fed by hospital staff at the Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital, where inmates of Sajiwa Centrla Jail are taken for medical treatment.
Speaking to NDTV, Sharmilaâ€™s lawyer K H Mani said that they expected the court to release her in a day or two, and that she would be continuing her fast. Sharmila began her fast in 2000, after the Assam Rifles gunned down 10 civilians in Malom village, near Imphal, on November 2.
Soon after, she was booked for attempting to commit suicide, and has been arrested, released, and arrested numerous times for trying to kill herself. She has been fed liquid diet through a nasal tube during the day for several years now.
An absolute lack of nutrition through solid food for nearly 12 years may have permanently damaged Sharmilaâ€™s body. News reports suggest that she stopped menstruating some years ago. She is now 41 years old.
Sharmilaâ€™s â€śattempt to suicideâ€ť, as the authorities call it, is aimed at getting the central government to repeal the AFSPA, which has been in force in Manipur since 1980, when Sharmila was eight years old. It has been applied to almost all of the north-eastern states at different times and for different durations since 1958.
Manipuris allege that the wide powers given to the armed forces by the act have been grossly misused and have led to numerous murders, fake encounters, disappearances, shootings, rapes of people in the state.
Recently, the Supreme Court ordered the Manipur government to provide a copy of its report on 27 fake encounters to two human rights groups. The two groups, Human Rights Alert and Extra-judicial Execution Victim Families Association Manipur had petitioned the court, asking it to set up a Sepcial Investigation Team to look into 1,528 killings since the AFSPA was invoked, which they alleged were unlawful.