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Ending fast, not battle, says Irom Sharmila

| MANOJ ANAND
Published : Jul 28, 2016, 6:00 am IST
Updated : Jul 28, 2016, 6:00 am IST

Irom Sharmila, who announced she would end her 16-year-old hunger strike on August 9, said on Wednesday she was going to end her fast but not her battle against Armed Forces Special Power Act.

Irom Sharmila
 Irom Sharmila

Irom Sharmila, who announced she would end her 16-year-old hunger strike on August 9, said on Wednesday she was going to end her fast but not her battle against Armed Forces Special Power Act.

Clarifying that she was concerned about the response of the civil society too on her decision, human rights activist Babloo Loitongbam, who met her on Wednesday morning, told this newspaper, “She told me that I could have ended the fast even today, but just to know the opinion of the civil society, I have announced the date of August 9.” Asserting that she was committed to continue her struggle even after breaking the fast, Mr Loitongbam said that she was disappointed with the response of the government and wanted to change her form of protest.

Pointing out that her prolong fast has failed to draw the attention of the government, the noted human rights activist said, “We are going to extend our support to Irom Sharmila.”

Informing that civil society groups of Manipur are meeting in Imphal on Wednesday to take note of Ms Sharmila’s announcements, Mr Loitongbam said that Ms Sharmila was also disappointed with the poor response of the civil society. He, however, admitted that the announcement of Ms Sharmila has taken the civil society by surprise.

Mr Loitongbam however clarified that they did not discuss anything about her plan to get married. “It is her personal decision so I did not discuss that issue,” he said adding that he met her during the morning walk. Ms Sharmila has been in police custody and not allowed to interact with civilians without prior permission of the authorities. For the last 16 years, Sharmila has lived under house arrest as an undertrial prisoner in room number 1 in the special ward of the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal. She has been force-fed through her nose the entire time - the Ryles tube used to feed her has become a symbol of Manipur’s fight against AFSPA.

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