Source: News Bharati English26 Jul 2016 15:45:41

Imphal, July 26: Irom Sharmila, 44, a Manipuri rights activist has decided to end her fast on August 9 and also announced that she would contest state elections in Manipur. Irom, who is known as the Iron Lady, was on a fast for the past 16 years since November 5, 2000 in Manipur demanding repeal of the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA). She was arrested multiple times and was force-fed through a nasal tube."I will break my fast as the government has failed to give any positive response. I will fight elections to resolve the issues," she said on Tuesday. The elections for Manipur Legislative Assembly are scheduled to happen in early 2017.

In March 2013, Sharmila was put on trial after she refused to plead guilty to the charge of attempting to commit suicide. She was accused of attempting suicide while undertaking a fast-unto-death at Jantar Mantar on October 4, 2006. Sharmila has also been awarded the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights and a lifetime achievement award from the Asian Human Rights Commission, among various other felicitations for her struggle.

Manipur suffered insurgency for a long time, with multiple armed factions operating in India's north-eastern states, intra-tribal warfare, terrorism and even government-sponsored violence.

In 1958, centre passed AFSPA - a law that granted security forces the power to search properties without a warrant, arrest people and to use deadly force in case of a reasonable suspicion that the person is acting against the state.

In November 2000, an Assam Rifles convoy was attacked by insurgents near Malom, Manipur. In retaliation, the troops shot at civilians waiting at a nearby bus-stop killing 10 civilians.

The victims included 62-year-old Leisangbam Ibetombi and 18-year-old Sinam Chandramani, a 1988 National Child Bravery Award winner. It was this incident which provoked Sharmila to go on a hunger strike, she was just 28 at the time.

Sharmila began her hunger strike against the killing of 10 civilians by security forces at a bus stop near Imphal airport. Sharmila has justified using fast as a weapon to achieve her goal of repealing AFSPA. "Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation, had resorted to fasts while making certain demands," she said.