Imphal: Activist Irom Sharmila Chanu, who is on an indefinite fast in Manipur for nearly 14 years seeking repeal of a law giving sweeping powers to the armed forces to deal with terrorism, was again arrested yesterday, two days after she was released following a court order.
A police contingent arrived at Sharmila’s protest site yesterday morning and took her to a government hospital in a police van before arresting her despite resistance from Sharmila, her mother and few supporters.
“Sharmila re-arrested on charges of attempt to commit suicide. She was arrested by the police after she refused to undergo medical check-up or be force-fed following her release from hospital prison on Wednesday,” Additional Director General of Manipur Police Santosh Macherla told reporters.
He said: “The court in its order had said the responsibility of Sharmila’s health would remain with the state government. After she refused to be force-fed and undergo health check-up following her release, the police again arrested her.”
A Manipur health department official said a doctor accompanied by paramedical staff with police arrived late on Thursday night at the temporary shed here, which is now Sharmila’s protest site, but she was sleeping. Later, she refused to undergo a medical check-up.
Manipur Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam, who also holds the home portfolio, said the government is taking care for her safety and health.
The entry of media and others inside the heavily guarded Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences here, where Sharmila has been lodged, has been barred.
The 42-year old human rights activist was released on Wednesday, a day after a district sessions court asked the Manipur government to free her from the makeshift jail set up in a hospital since November 2000.
The “Iron Lady”, as Sharmila is known in Manipur, immediately after her release vowed to continue her fight to end the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 (AFSPA).
She told reporters: “I will continue my struggle until the tough act is repealed. My struggle proves that I am right, justice has been upheld finally.” “I need people’s support,” said Sharmila.
Imphal East District Sessions Judge A Guneshwar Sharma while passing the judgment on a petition filed by Sharmila said it was just a claim that she wants to commit suicide.
“No proof was established against the allegation of the authority. Hence, she cannot be kept under arrest and should be freed immediately,” the judge added.
Sharmila has been on an indefinite hunger strike since Nov 4, 2000, demanding repeal of the AFSPA after the killing of 10 people allegedly by the paramilitary Assam Rifles at Malom near the Imphal airport on November 2, 2000.
She was charged under Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code that provides for a year’s custody at a stretch. In view of her ill-health, Sharmila was lodged in a special ward of the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal where the room in which she was confined was declared a sub-jail.