Mere hours after the Centre withdrew the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from several parts of Nagaland, Assam and Manipur, the Manipur government decided to present “Iron Lady” Irom Chanu Sharmila an award for her hunger strike of 16 years to support the anti-AFSPA movement.

“We shall definitely invite her and honour her,” Manipur CM N Biren Singh said.

 “I also appreciate the people of Manipur, mainly Shrimati Sharmila who sacrificed half of her life staging dharna and hunger strike for 16 years,” he added.

“I would like to thank all the people for their support. At least, the AFSPA has been removed for the areas under 15 police stations of the state,” Singh said.

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Irom Chanu Sharmila is a human rights activist from Manipur who rose to prominence for her hunger strike from November 4 in 2000 to August 2016 to revoke the AFSPA before creating the People’s Resurgence and Justice Alliance prior to the 2017 Manipur assembly elections.

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Sharmila began her hunger strike two days after the Assam Rifles killed 10 people in Malom Makha Leikai in November 2000. 

The 49-year-old, who became the torchbearer of Manipur’s anti-AFSPA movement, lauded the Centre’s decision to remove AFSPA from several parts of the states of Manipur, Assam and Nagaland and called the move “a real sign of democracy”.

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“The decision to repeal an outdated and colonial law seems a real sign of democracy to me… It’s a new beginning and a result of the decades-long fight. The first step has been taken, and I want Afspa to be abolished permanently from the entire North East. The victims, who have lost their loved ones and those who have personally suffered because of this law, should be compensated,” she told HT.