'Foremost task to remove AFSPA from Manipur'
IMPHAL, Aug 9: Manipuri activist Irom Sharmila on Tuesday ended her 16-year-long fast against imposition of the "draconian" AFSPA in her state and announced that she wants to join politics and become Chief Minister one day.
Sharmila, who has been on fast unto death since 2000 to demand lifting of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) from Manipur, got emotiol as she licked some honey to mark the ending of her fast.
Earlier, doctors removed the sal feeding tube that was used to force feed her.
Speaking to reporters, including from the foreign media, Sharmila said: "I will never forget this moment."
She said she will use everything in her power to create a positive society and the "foremost will be removal of this draconian (AFSPA) law". The AFSPA gives sweeping powers to security forces.
"I want to be the CM of Manipur to help the people," she said.
Asked to comment on the ongoing protests in Jammu and Kashmir, Sharmila said "Let the Kashmiris have the right of self-determition".
Asked where she will stay now, Sharmila said she will stay in an ashram. She has been living at the J.N. Institute of Medical Sciences for the last 16 years where she was being fed through a sal tube.
Her mother Sakhi has refused to meet her while her elder brother I. Shinghajit, in an open letter, made an impassioned appeal to her to continue the fast.
Sharmila said she will see her mother only after AFSPA has been repealed from her state.
Earlier, Sharmila told a court that she wants to end her fast. She was released on bail on Tuesday by L. Tonsing, chief judicial magistrate, Imphal west, where she was produced. She also signed a bond for Rs 10,000.
She told newspersons that she will contest the 2017 assembly elections from Khurai Assembly constituency as an independent.
Reports say that some local and tiol parties have sent feelers to her. She has not responded yet.
Doctors are not allowing her to eat normal solid food immediately. One doctor said: "As she has been staying away from normal solid food for over 16 years, we have to take a step by step approach. It will take some days for her to resume normal food."
It was announced that Sharmila will stay in hospital for the next three days under medical supervision. During the time, she will be administered solid food gradually and her health closely monitored.
Sharmila began her hunger strike in November 2000 following the killing of 10 civilians by security forces.
She was arrested by the Manipur government the same year on charges of attempting to commit suicide.
She has always denied the charge, saying she is using the fast as a weapon.
As the prosecution failed to prove that she was trying to kill herself, the Chief Judicial Magistrate had ordered on February 29, 2016 that she be freed.
She was rearrested on the same charge as she continued the fast.
Sharmila has been appealing to all sections of the people to support her cause. But except for some reporters, there is nobody to meet her when she goes to the court every 15 days. (IANS)