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Sharmila to appear before Delhi court

- Crusader iterates wish to meet Modi

Imphal, May 27: Rights crusader Irom Sharmila left Imphal today to appear before a court in New Delhi tomorrow. Jail officials, police personnel, a doctor and two nurses accompanied her.

She will go to Patiala House Courts tomorrow in connection with her hunger strike, which she launched in New Delhi in 2006 to press for her demand to repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.

The case in New Delhi is running simultaneously with another case registered in the court of the chief judicial magistrate, Imphal East, where police have submitted a chargesheet accusing her with attempt to commit suicide under Section 309 of the IPC.

The hearing was concluded on May 24 and the judge, A. Noutuneshwari, will announce her judgment on June 4. During the hearing, Sharmila pleaded that she was not trying to commit suicide but using the means of a hunger strike to press for her demand.

Sharmila began her hunger strike in November 2000 after 10 civilians were killed by Assam Rifles troops in retaliation to a militant attack near Imphal airport.

After five years, when her fast failed to attract the attention of the Centre, Sharmila moved to New Delhi in 2006 to draw the attention of the Union government and the international community. Then, Delhi police registered a case against her. This is the second time that Sharmila will appear before the Delhi court after she was freed on bail and returned to Imphal.

Today, she reiterated her wish to meet the new Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to press for her demand.

“During my trip to New Delhi to appear in court, I wish to meet the new Prime Minister to request him to repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act,” Sharmila said.

Rights activists in Manipur are hoping that the Modi government will consider the demand to repeal the act.

“Narendra Modi has got the mandate of the people and he should repeal the army act in the interest of the country and its image. Several countries and the UN Human Rights Council have been putting pressure on New Delhi to repeal the act,” said Babloo Loitongbam, executive director of Human Rights Alert, Manipur.

The Maniput unit of the BJP is reportedly preparing to submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister on the various issues of the state. The issue of repealing the act is expected to be one of the points in the memorandum.

A team of the Manipur BJP, led by its president Thounaojam Chaoba Singh, is camping in New Delhi after attending yesterday’s swearing-in ceremony.

During the election campaign, Chaoba Singh had promised that, if he came to power, he would urge Modi to lift the army act from Manipur.