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Imphal court sets stage for Sharmila trial

Imphal, June 4: The chief judicial magistrate (CJM), Imphal East, today set the stage for holding trial of rights crusader Irom Sharmila by framing charges of attempting to commit suicide.

This will be for the first time any court holds a trial of Sharmila on this offence.

In the past 14 years, she was freed each time she completed one year’s jail term under the “offence” without any trial, only to be taken back to jail after she refused to end her hunger strike.

Judge A. Noutuneshwari Devi passed her order, which was reserved on May 24 and fixed July 7 as the date for start of hearing prosecution witnesses.

In her order the judge said prima facie evidence of attempting to commit suicide was found against Sharmila.

“Hence the charge has been framed against the accused person for committing the offence under Section 309 IPC,” the order announced today said.

Not satisfied with the court’s order, Sharmila said she would approach a higher court against the order of the CJM.

“I am not trying to commit suicide. I am only using a non-violent means of struggle to get the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act or AFSPA repealed to ensure the right to life and liberty enshrined in the Constitution,” Sharmila said after coming out of the court.

Her counsel Khaidem Mani said he would file a petition before the district and sessions judge Manipur East, seeking a review of the order passed by the CJM today.

Sharmila has been on fast since November 2000 demanding repeal of the army act. Her hunger strike was triggered by killing of 10 civilians, including one child bravery award winner, in indiscriminate firing by Assam Rifles troops at a group of people at a bus stand at Malom near Imphal airport in retaliation to a militant attack.

Assistant public prosecutor Th. Kunjabihari Singh argued that Sharmila was trying to commit suicide by fasting for the past 14 years.

She was surviving on forced nasal feeding in judicial custody as she refused to take food. Without it, she would have died long before. Hence, she was committing the offence, he argued.

During the hearing on the chargesheet submitted by the police, which began on May 13, the defence counsel argued that Sharmila was innocent of the charge and she was not committing any crime.

Mani also claimed that Sharmila’s demand was just and genuine, citing the recommendation made by Jeevan Reddy Commission for repealing of the army act.

The then Manmohan Singh government constituted the committee after a public uprising against the killing of Thangjam Manorama, a young girl from Imphal East, after being allegedly raped by troops of the Assam Rifles in July 2004.


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