Mahatma Gandhi Community Forum

Indian Court orders release of Prisoner of Conscience - Irom Sharmilla, Aug. 20, 2014 (14 years, 10 month long FAST)

IMPHAL: A local court today ordered the release of rights activist Irom Chanu Sharmila, under detention for attempting to commit suicide by fasting for nearly 14 years demanding withdrawal of a tough law that gives sweeping powers to armed forces from Manipur.

Absolving her of the charge of attempt to suicide, sessions judge (Imphal east) A Guneshwar Sharma said, "The petitioner (Sharmila) be released from custody if not required in any other case."

The prosecution, he said, had "failed miserably" to establish her intention to commit suicide by fasting unto death and evidence of the alleged offence, which is punishable under Section 309 of the IPC, was lacking. 

The prosecution, he said, had "failed miserably" to establish her intention to commit suicide by fasting unto death and evidence of the offence, which is punishable under Section 309 of the IPC, was lacking.

42­year­old Sharmila's agitation was a political demand through a lawful means of repealing a valid statue ­ Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958 ­ and from her past conduct it seems she may continue with her fast till her demand is met politically by the government, the court said.

In the circumstances, the state government may take up appropriate measures for her health and safety such as nose feeding in case she decides to continue with her fast, the judge said.

She was being kept at the government hospital at Porompat here where a room was converted into a jail. She is being fed through her nose.

She is released and re­arrested every year as the law allows detention only for 364 days.

The state police had earlier filed cases under different provisions of CrPC stating that
Sharmila was attempting to commit suicide by fasting for more than 13 years. While Y
Indira represented the government, Sharmila was represented by senior advocate and well ­known human rights activist Khaidem Mani.

The activist had launched her fast after the killing of 10 people allegedly by Assam Rifles in a suspected encounter with insurgents at Malom near Imphal airport in November 2000.

She has been under arrest since then and has been released from time to time but continued her fast for the past more than one decade.


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Sharmila is continuing her Fast, and has been put in the hospital again, as people are concerned for her survival.  The issues about which she has undertaken this arduous path are not being addressed in anyway.  In a brief talk, which ZEE news captured, from her wheelchair, she said that at this time

However, after being released this week Irom had asserted that she would not allow herself to be force-fed again.

"I will not take any force feed this time. I will not allow any medical set up. I don't feel hungry. What I feel is an emptiness," the activist was reported as saying. 

What is disturbing also, are the comments after the article, which demonstrate the callousness of our youth, their increasing inability to relate emotionally.  There have been many studies on the effects of digital gadgets upon out children

What can we do, the older generation, who still holds the flame of pure ideals as being worth living for?

The respect that is due this beacon of conscience is missing now.  The diet she has been force fed is barely enough to sustain her. She has become very fragile.  This is the news on how she was treated during a "rearrest"

A local court in Imphal had on Tuesday freed her of charges of attempt to commit suicide by means of fasting after which she walked out of the hospital-turned-prison on Wednesday.

"The court released her for her past act. Now she is again refusing to take food and water and resisting any medical check-up as well. Her health had deteriorated and now she will be kept at the same hospital ward where she was kept earlier," Macherla said.

During the day a magistrate from the CJM court visited the hospital where she was kept and gave the order of judicial custody after hearing the case, he said.

"She will be nose-fed forcibly like what was done earlier," the police official said.

Her family members, meanwhile, complained that while being whisked away from the protest site, Sharmila was handled roughly by the policemen.

"Her hand was hurt badly and a nail broke off. We are worried as her health is growing weak. We will consult our lawyer in the matter and plead before the court to release her again," he said condemning Sharmila's re-arrest.

Various civil rights groups in the state also termed the move to re-arrest her despite an earlier court order as "illegal".

"This is a case of illegal detention by the police against a peaceful protester who has spent 48 hours without food and water. The court has already released Sharmila. Then how can she be arrested again on the same charges? We strongly condemn this," Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network founder Binalakshmi Nepram told PTI.

Demanding repeal of AFSPA, she said, "The arrest of a peaceful protester who is following the Gandhian way is a blot on our democracy."

I see no justification for any violence done to her physically, in addition to the psychological violence that she has had to endure for so long, that she has borne for all of humanity.  It is very disturbing to read that she was treated thusly.

During the Hindu-Muslims conflicting situations, Mahatma Gandhi had stopped fasting upon requests and pleas made by the highly-regarded leaders from both the sides. And, this he did on many occasions during various fasting protests. Authorities showed some respect while his fasting was on and off.

Today's conditions are highly pathetic. No leaders have come forward to assure her of anything or even convince her to stop her agitation. Heavy drama is going on between armed forces and local police who now and then take her into their custody while local people (supporters) giving a boost to prompt her sticking to her protests.

The whole thing should stop. I request the ruling party leaders to intervene in this issue to do some justice. A political action in favour of the justice sought by Sharmila and her supporters must happen. This is the time. Their hopes and faith should not be trivialized by any means. Otherwise, this tragic drama is an eye-soaring trauma what the people like us feel upon hearing her stories.

From the Sharmila side, she should also come up with her own intend of meeting a leader of her choice to amicably settle the issue. That would bring a step ahead in resolving the issue.

I don't think local supporters are the reason Sharmila sticks to her Fast.  She is clearly under a higher order.  The Fasts that Gandhi broke vs. the ones he sustained, we also in accordance to the degree that he felt he could waver in terms of his conscience or not.  

Her ordeal, while it may be gruesome and wearing for many to witness, is a blazing ember to the indifference of us all, to such gross injustice, before our eyes, for so many years.  We have become half dead, not because of her suffering, but due to the lack of response from the public heart, from the soul of India, present in all Indians.  People just want the troubles of the North East and the suffering of the people, out of their eyes and minds, so life can be made of pleasanter thoughts with our near and dear.

Like the rest of the world, the younger generation in India is being taught to devalue such a humane, noble effort as Sharmila is making.  Ultimately, and immediately, Sharmila stands for the mute voice of powerless people, before the abuses of state powers everywhere on the planet.

Sharmila has asked to speak to Manmohanji when he was PM, She has asked to speak to Modiji.              

She asked Anna Hazare to please come to Manipur.  No leaders anywhere are heeding her humble requests.

Is it because she is a woman?  From an economically depressed section of society?

Gandhiji was a man, his family had royal standing as diwans to the Porbander princely state.  He was from the upper castes.  Those who followed his teachings as lower social status people are unknown as `gandhians' today.

Can I ask how you are requesting ruling party leaders to intervene in this issue for justice?  I would appreciate the contact details, will post them here for others to also request.


Have to correct myself, not 14 years 10 months, but 13 YEARS, 10 MONTHS.  The media is showing indifference to the time, saying over a decade...when every day, is huge.


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