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Sharmila donates to Red Cross

- Crusader re-arrested a day after release

Imphal, March 14: Irom Sharmila, who is back in jail after 24 hours of freedom, today donated a sum of Rs 4 lakh to the International Committee of the Red Cross through the All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union.

Sharmila handed over the cheque to a representative of the union at her fasting venue at the office of the Sharmila Kanba Lup, a support group, which is located near the Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital, where she has been living for the past 13 years.

An Imphal court yesterday released her on completion of a one-year sentence on the offence of attempting to commit suicide. After walking out of the security ward of the hospital accompanied by her supporters last evening, Sharmila continued her hunger strike at the support group’s office along with her supporters. Police took her back to the security ward of the hospital this evening.

Sharmila, who has been on fast since November 5, 2000, demanding repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, gave the cheque before police came to take her back.

“I want to help victims of disasters and also contribute to the efforts of the Red Cross in its campaign for world peace,” Sharmila said.

She expressed her unhappiness at the Centre’s decision not to allow the Red Cross to enter the Northeast. “I wanted to meet them and hand over the cheque. But as I could not do so, I am giving it to the journalists’ body. Red Cross should be allowed to give it services to the people of the Northeast,” she said.

BJP candidate in the Inner Manipur constituency R.K. Ranjan Singh today met Sharmila and assured her that if elected he would raise the issue of the army act in Parliament. “Don’t be like other politicians. If you make a commitment, fulfil it. Don’t forget the commitments after electoral victory,” Sharmila told Ranjan Singh.

Her supporters unsuccessfully tried to prevent the police from taking her away. “Don’t take away Sharmila,” the supporters shouted. They turned their anger on the police team coming to arrest Sharmila. “She is fighting for all of us, including you. Why do you want to arrest her?” a supporter asked a lady police officer.

“The government is playing with Sharmila’s life. Why did they release her if she is to be re-arrested?” another supporter asked.