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Sharmila denied request to vote

Imphal, April 11: Manipur rights crusader Irom Sharmila, who expressed her wish to vote, has been denied the right.

“If I am allowed, I would like to cast my vote,” Sharmila said while coming to an Imphal court for routine appearance today.

However, chief electoral officer O. Nabakishore Singh said she could not do so.

Singh said under the Representation of Peoples Act, a prisoner could not cast votes. He cited sections of the act that prevented prisoners like Sharmila from casting votes.

Sharmila began her hunger strike on November 5, 2000, demanding repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.

She is charged with attempting to commit suicide under Section 309 of the IPC, an offence punishable with a year’s jail term.

The rights activist was released every time she completed a year’s term, only to be brought back to jail as she refused to end her hunger strike. She has been surviving on forced nasal feeding.

The last time she was released from jail was on March 13 this year.

She was sent back to jail the next day after she continued her hunger strike.

Earlier this year, Sharmila rejected an offer by chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh to join the Congress and continue her struggle.

Sharmila claimed that on the day she was released last month, Ibobi Singh came to meet her in jail and invited her to join the Congress.

Ibobi Singh later denied asking Sharmila to join the Congress.

Sharmila had, however, said she extended her support to the Aam Aadmi Party, which had requested Sharmila to be a candidate.

Though Sharmila turned down the offer, she said she supported the AAP.

Sharmila hails from Kongpal of Imphal East, which falls under the Inner Manipur parliamentary constituency, which will go to the polls on April 17.

AAP is fielding candidates in both Inner Manipur and Outer Manipur constituencies.

On the promises made by political parties in their election manifestos to either repeal or withdraw the army act, Sharmila said the political parties and candidates should not make any promise that they could not fulfil.