India woman's 10-year fast against anti-insurgent law

Irom Sharmila Chanu with police officers Ms Chanu is force-fed through her nose

An Indian woman who has spent 10 years fasting against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act has vowed not to call off her protest.

The act gives sweeping powers to the armed forces when they fight separatist insurgents or leftist radicals - powers which critics say are often misused.

Irom Sharmila Chanu, 39, completed her 10th year of hunger strike in the north-eastern state of Manipur.

She has been force-fed through a pipe in her nose since November 2000.

The move was made on the orders of the state government to keep her alive.

Iconic figure

"I will withdraw the fast as and when the government withdraws the Armed Forces Special Powers Act unconditionally, but not before that," Ms Chanu said.

Irom Sharmila Chanu Ms Chanu says that she is determined to continue her protest

The BBC's Subir Bhaumik in Calcutta says that her decade of fasting has made her into an iconic figure in Manipur.

The state has a population of about 2.5 million people and a huge force of army, paramilitary and state police. They have been fighting at least 12 insurgent groups since 1980.

The government and the army maintain that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act is necessary to restore normality in the state.

But civil society groups allege gross human rights violations by troops and policemen.

The National Human Rights Commission last year rebuked the Manipur government for not reporting to it 111 cases of "mysterious disappearances" of locals - men and women believed to have been dragged away and killed secretly.

Ms Chanu's hunger strike started after one such alleged atrocity.

Her brother, Irom Singhajit Singh, said that she began it after soldiers of the Assam Rifles paramilitary force allegedly killed 10 young Manipuri men.

"The killings took place on 2 November, 2000. It was a Thursday. Sharmila used to fast on Thursdays since she was a child. That day she was fasting too. She has just continued with her fast," Mr Singh said.

Three days later, police arrested her on charges of trying to take her life.

Later she was transferred to judicial custody and taken to hospital where she remains to this day, force-fed a liquid diet through her nose.

More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More South Asia stories

RSS

Features

  • A painting of the White House on fire by Tom FreemanFinders keepers

    The odd objects looted by the British from Washington in 1814


  • Chris and Regina Catrambone with their daughter Maria LuisaSOS

    The millionaires who rescue people at sea


  • groynes at ClactonRunning the rule

    Will Clacton's voters opt for UKIP over the Tories?


  • Plane7 days quiz

    What unusual offence got a Frenchman thrown off a plane?


  • Children testing a bridge at a model-making summer school in Crawley, West SussexTiny shipyard Watch

    The art of making boats out of coffee stirrers


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.