16-year routine ends as Sharmila ends fast
Imphal : As Manipur’s ‘Iron Lady’ Irom Sharmila broke her fast today, a fortnightly routine going on for about 16 years also ended.
Every fortnight a 10-minute ambulance journey from Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Science Hospital would take her to the CJM court in Imphal West where the magistrate would routinely ask her whether she would break the hunger strike.
“Fast thodolokai (No I won’t break my fast)”, would be her answer each time.
But the pattern changed today. Sharmila told the court of her intention to break her fast after which the chief judicial magistrate Lamkhanpau Tonsing asked her to furnish a personal recognisance bond of Rs 10,000.
Ronsing said in his order that since the offence under section 309 (attempt to commit suicide) is a bailable offence he is inclined to allow her bail on furnishing of the PR bond.
After the bond was furnished it was accepted by the court and a release order was issued. She has now been asked to appear before the court on August 23.
On earlier occasions, the court had routinely kept on extending her judicial remand for 15 days after which she had to be reproduced and the cycle was repeated.
As maximum punishment for attempt to suicide is one year, Sharmila was released and re-released innumerable times and has spent most of these years in solitary confinement in jail.
Her supporters and family members said she has never been convicted by the court nor had police produced any chargesheet.
Authorities have dubbed her a habitual offender but her non-violent resistance has become a nucleus for collective protest against Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Manipur and other northeast states.
Sharmila had been on an indefinite fast since November 5, 2000 over alleged killing of 10 innocents at Malom bus stop, few kms away from the city, by Assam Rifles on November 2.
Sharmila went to Malom and started her fast from November 5.
Known as the ‘Iron Lady of Manipur’, the ‘Satyagrahi’ had said in the past, Gandhi’s path of ‘Ahinsa’ (non-violence) and ‘Satyagrah’ inspired her to take the unusual step of undertakking the world’s longest hunger strike.