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Indian "Iron Lady" to end 16-year hunger strike

Aug 09, 2016, 6:56 AM EDT
Indian activist Irom Sharmila
(Source: American Center Mumbai/flickr)

Indian activist Irom Sharmila, who started a hunger strike sixteen years ago in protest against alleged brutality by the country’s military in the conflict-torn north-eastern state of Manipur, will end her fast on Tuesday. The activist, hailed as India’s Iron Lady, admitted that her fight against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (A.F.S.P.A.) needed a new route, which is why she decided to enter politics.

Irom’s epic struggle has earned her comparison with icons such as Aung San Suu Kyi and Nelson Mandela, writes The Guardian. Three days after Irom began her fast, she was arrested on charges of attempting suicide. The activist has been fed through a nasal tube at the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences since she began her fast in November 2000.

The 44-year-old activist said that her ultimate goal is to get the controversial A.F.S.P.A. removed, as it allows the military to exercise unchecked powers to combat insurgency in turbulent areas, notes Al Jazeera.

A.F.S.P.A., which is also in effect in India-ruled Kashmir, where separatist rebellions have been going on, grants the troops wide-ranging powers that include the right to shoot to kill the suspected rebels without the fear of possible prosecution.