Irom Sharmila Acquitted, to Start Political Journey on 10 October

Irom Sharmila Chanu was booked under Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code for attempted suicide.

2 min read
Manipuri rights activist Irom Sharmila. (Photo: IANS) 

The Iron lady of Manipur, Irom Sharmila has finally been set free, with a local law court in Manipur quashing the ‘attempt to commit suicide’ charge that kept her in prison for 16 long years.

The CJM court found no reasonable evidence to substantiate the charge of suicide under Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code.

Speaking to Manipurpao, as she walked out of the court room smiling, Sharmila said the acquittal is a victory that she cherishes:

Acquitting me of all charges under ‘attempt to commit suicide’, a charge that criminalised my long non-violent struggle initiated for demanding a democratic right is an achievement in itself.

Fight Against AFSPA Continues

Reiterating that she has not given up on her campaign against the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Sharmila said her entry to electoral politics is only a strategy change to achieve success in repealing the Act.

As I have only changed my strategy for my campaign to repeal the Act and have not abandoned the struggle, on 10 October, a new political party will be announced for my entry to electoral politics.

Case Dismissed Only After Sharmila’s Hunger Strike Ended

Ironically, the disposal took 16 years and only after Sharmila decided to end her hunger strike against the enforcement of AFSPA in Manipur. The court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate Imphal West ruled in favour of Sharmila saying,

In the present case, even though the cat of fasting of the accused person as charged is admitted, there exist no evidences at all to show that the accused person had the necessary men rea of an intention to kill, destroy or destruct her life by fasting.

Sharmila’s New Party to be Mass Based

On being further quizzed whether the new party will be known only as a political party against AFSPA, the icon lady softly said,

The new party will be mass based and one which is founded on justice, peace, love and understanding. It will prioritise on building bridges of understanding and actively culture the voice of the people.

Since November 2000 after the country’s oldest paramilitary forces mowed down 10 innocent bystanders at a bus stop at Malom in Imphal west, Irom Sharmila Chanu launched her world record setting political hunger strike against the Army's Act, that lasted for 16 years, alleging that the act encourages ransom killing even on mere suspicion and gives impunity to the perpetrator of the crime.

During these long years of struggle she has been charged under the attempt to commit suicide, a punishable offence under the Indian penal code section 309. Periodically she would be released only to be re-arrested only to beat the legal technicalities.

During the permissible period of 365 days of judicial custody under section 309, Sharmila is forced fed through a nasal tube and kept in a special room of a government hospital.

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