Irom Sharmila freed, but vows to continue fast-unto-death

Irom Sharmila Manipur's civil rights crusader Irom Sharmila was freed from jail on Thursday evening following an order by an Imphal court, which dismissed the police charges as baseless and without foundation, putting the Okram Ibobi Singh government in a predicament – because today, Sharmila vowed to continue her fast-unto-death even outside bars.

A medical team is constantly monitoring her health, and police are reportedly standing by to re-arrest her any time on Saturday, according to reports.

On Thursday Wisdom Kamodang, judicial magistrate, Imphal East ordered her release since the prosecution has failed to establish that Sharmila was attempting to commit suicide. She was released on Thursday night. But accompanied by women activists of Save Sharmila Group she went straight to the heart of state capital Imphal and continued the fast by squatting at the foot of the King Bhagyachandra statue.

She has been on fast unto death since 4 November 2000 demanding the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 which gives almost unlimited powers to security forces battling insurgents in the state. It is common knowledge that these powers are frequently misused.

On 19 August 2014, the District and Sessions Court had ordered her release since the prosecution could not prove that she was attempting to commit suicide. However, the social activist maintained that she cannot lead a normal life unless the draconian AFSPA is repealed.

Police then re-arrested her since she continued her fast. She was detained under section 309 of the Indian Penal Code (attempt to commit suicide).