Irom Chanu Sharmila, the Iron Lady of Manipur, on 9 August 2016 ended her 16-year-long hunger strike outside the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal, Manipur.
Sharmila, 44, has been fed through nasal tube since November 2000. Moreover, she spent most of her time in judicial custody in a hospital in Imphal.
Moments after ending the fast, Sharmila announced that she wants to be the Chief Minister of Manipur, so that she may bring some positive changes in the state. As per her, democracy is not available in the state.
The Iron Lady of Manipur went on a hunger-strike at the age of 28 following a massacre in Imphal in which 10 persons were killed. Her primary demand was repealing of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) of 1958 from her state.
Irom Chanu Sharmila
• Born on 14 March 1972, the Iron Lady of Manipur is also known as "Mengoubi" ("the fair one").
• She is a civil rights activist, political activist. She is also a poet.
• She began her hunger-strike, the world's longest hunger strike till date, on 2 November 2000 by refusing food and water for more than 500 weeks.
• On International Women’s Day 2014, she was voted the top woman icon of India by MSN Poll.
• Amnesty International has declared her as a Prisoner of Conscience.
Awards and Honours conferred on the Iron Lady includes
• In 2007, she was awarded the 2007 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights. She shared the award with Lenin Raghuvanshi of People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights, a northeastern Indian human rights organisation. The Gwangju Prize is given to "an outstanding person or group, active in the promotion and advocacy of Peace, Democracy and Human Rights".
• In 2009, she was awarded the first Mayillama Award of the Mayilamma Foundation "for achievement of her nonviolent struggle in Manipur".
• In 2010, she won a lifetime achievement award from the Asian Human Rights Commission.
• In 2010, she also won the Rabindranath Tagore Peace Prize of the Indian Institute of Planning and Management, which came with a cash award of 5100000 rupees.
• She also won the Sarva Gunah Sampannah "Award for Peace and Harmony" from the Signature Training Centre.
Supreme Court on AFSPA 1958
Sharmila ended her fast a month after the Supreme Court questioned the immunity enjoyed by the security personnel under the AFSPA 1958 against criminal action for acts committed in disturbed areas. In its judgement on 8 July 2016, the apex court said that there was no concept of absolute immunity from trial by a criminal court if an Army man had committed an offence.
While being sympathetic to the pressures that security forces face in conflict zones, the apex court also removed any ambiguity on the need to investigate allegations of extra-judicial killings.
This end of hunger strike also coincides with the 70th anniversary of the Quit India Movement, which is a symbolic day of remembrance for India’s struggle for freedom against British colonizers.
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Who: Irom Sharmila
When: 9 August 2016
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