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Symbolic fast supporting Irom Sharmila

NEW DELHI (IANS): A group of activists from different organisations staged a symbolic day-long fast here on Wednesday to express solidarity with Manipuri civil rights activist Irom Sharmila Chanu who has completed 15 years of non-stop hunger strike demanding repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from her state.

The 15 activists from Khudai Khidmatgar, National Alliance of People’s Movements, Delhi Solidarity Group, Socialist Party (India), Punjab Sanjhewal, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign (SSSC) and Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP) staged the fast at former deputy prime minister Jagjivan Ram’s memorial, Samta Sthal.

Sharmila started her non-stop hunger strike on November 2, 2000 after 10 civilians, including a 62-year-old woman and an 18-year-old National Bravery Award winner, were shot dead while waiting at a bus stop in Malom town in the Imphal valley of Manipur. They were allegedly killed by personnel of the Assam Rifles paramilitary force.

“Sharmila’s weight is 35 kg now,” Qamara Intekhab of SSSC told IANS at the site of the symbolic fast.

“Forget the law, we want the NHRC (National Human Rights Commission) to hear her questions at least on humanitarian grounds,” he said.

Sharmila is being kept under judicial custody in the security ward of the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal and being force-fed.

Last month, the court of the chief judicial magistrate, Imphal West, fixed November 9 as the next date of hearing of the case against her under Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code for attempt to commit suicide.

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