Decision of Irom Chanu Sharmila to contest elections
Sixteen years after starting her hunger strike demanding the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, Irom Chanu Sharmila has decided to end her fast on August 9 and contest the Manipur Assembly elections as an Independent candidate.

Who is Irom Chanu Sharmila (also known as Iron Lady)?
The 44-year-old rights activist who has refused to eat or drink anything since November 2000, and is force-fed through a nasal tube in Imphal’s Jawahar Lal Nehru Hospital. She is in a special ward which serves as her prison.

On November 2, 2000, an Assam Rifles battalion allegedly killed 10 civilians in a village near Imphal. 3 days later, Sharmila started a fast, demanding the revocation of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act which allows security forces to kill a person on suspicion without liability to face trial.

Sharmila’s non-violent resistance inspired collective protest against the Act in the northeastern States. It won her several awards, including the 2007 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights, which is given to “an outstanding person or group, active in the promotion and advocacy of peace, democracy and human rights.” International organisations like Amnesty International have demanded her release.

In 2000, when the activist started her hunger strike, she had vowed not to enter her house or meet her mother till the government repealed the law. Since then, she has met her mother Sakhi Devi only once when she was also admitted to the same hospital in 2009.