Human rights crusader Irom Sharmila has completed 15 years of her continuous hunger strike demanding the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), a draconian law that gives Indian soldiers impunity in battling insurgencies in Northeastern India and Jammu & Kashmir.
On 2 November 2000, the 42-year-old Manipuri activist began her protest against the infamous and senseless killing of ten civilians waiting at a bus stop in Malom (Manipur) by the Assam Rifles, without a morsel going down her throat for more than 5,475 days now, except the liquids force-fed her by doctors.
Since then, Irom was arrested by the police and released from jail several times under Section 309 of Indian Penal Code for attempt to suicide. She was later transferred to judicial custody, and is currently being held at the Security Ward of Imphal’s Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences.
She has been called “the world’s longest hunger striker ever“. Despite repeated calls to withdraw the AFSPA from UN experts as well as national and international groups, the Act continues to be enforced.
On 2014 International Women’s Day, she was voted the top woman icon of India by MSN Poll.