Like Gandhi like Sharmila: Parallels with the Mahatma help Irom Sharmila secure acquittal in attempted suicide charge

New Delhi: Manipuri rights activist Irom Sharmila was on Wednesday acquitted by a Delhi court in a 2006 case of attempt to suicide when she was undertaking a fast until death at Jantar Mantar here.

File image of Irom Sharmila. Reuters

File image of Irom Sharmila. Reuters

Metropolitan Magistrate Harvinder Singh let off 42-year-old Sharmila, who is on a fast for the last 16 years in Manipur demanding repeal of AFSPA. She was put on trial on 4 March, 2013, for allegedly trying to commit suicide while undertaking fast-unto-death at Jantar Mantar on 4 October, 2006.

She had on Tuesday told the court that she was ready to end her fast if the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) was repealed and expressed her desire to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the issue.

Sharmila, who is fed through a nasal tube, was put on trial after she refused to plead guilty to the charge of attempting to commit suicide (Section 309 of IPC).

During the hearing, the activist had said she loved her life and was using her fast as a weapon to achieve her goal of repealing AFSPA as it would have "more impact" and added that this was "not a crime".

"Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation, had resorted to fasts while making certain demands," she said yesterday while justifying her fast. "Since there is no meaning of true democracy in the country, human rights activists should join hands. The matter should be brought to the attention of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations," Sharmila said.

She had earlier told the court that she was very much eager to eat if she got the assurance that the "draconian" law will be revoked.

Widespread discrimination was being done with the people from Northeast, she had alleged, adding she never intended to commit suicide and it was just a protest against AFSPA.

Known as the 'Iron Lady', Sharmila had earlier told the court that her protest was non-violent.


Updated Date: Mar 30, 2016 17:42 PM

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