On 22 August 2014, 42 year old civil rights activist Irom Chanu Sharmila was re-arrested on fresh charges of attempt to commit suicide under section 309 of the Indian Penal Code. The charges have been slapped on her by the Manipur state government as she has been on hunger strike since 2 November 2000 for the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) from Manipur when Assam Rifles killed 10 people at Malom area in an alleged encounter with insurgents. Ever since, Sharmila has been detained at the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences(JNIMS) from which she has been released and re-arrested again and again from time to time under provisions of the Indian Penal Code. Force feeding through nose is what has kept her alive for more than a decade now.
The last time when she was released was on Tuesday when Sharmila’s counsel Khadamani filed a revision petition after which the court agreed that there was no evidence to confirm that Sharmila is indeed trying to commit suicide and that the prosecution has failed to establish Section 309. However, since she refused to take food and water again after her release and even resisted medical check-up despite her deteriorating health, she was taken back forcibly to the hospital on Friday to be nose-fed like earlier.
Irom Sharmila’s family, expressing condemn at her re-arrest after being released by an earlier court, says they will consult their lawyer and plead before the court for her release again. Several civil rights groups and activists have called it “illegal” including Binalakshmi Nepram, the founder of Manipuri Women Gun Survivors Network, who says the former journalist-cum-social worker is only following the Gandhian way of peaceful protest.
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