Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

Irom Sharmila floats new party, eyes victory in Manipur poll

Bishwajit Aribam | October 18, 2016 2:43 pm Print
Calling off her 16-year-long fast on August 9, the "Iron Lady" of Manipur had vowed to contest election and topple Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi-led Congress government in the state.
Irom Sharmila


Irom Chanu Sharmila, who became the face of the peoples’ struggle against the much reviled Armed Forces Special Powers  Act (AFSPA 1958), on Tuesday floated her newly formed regional political party- PRJA (Peoples Resurgence and Justice Alliance) to fight election in the upcoming Manipur Assembly Election, which is due early next year.

Announcing the newly formed political outfit at Manipur Press Club in Imphal, the human rights activist said:  “the new party will bring change in the system of Manipur society, which has been downtrodden by muscle power. “She also lauded young volunteers, who are supporting her and her party to change the whole “dirty system” of the state.

Sharmila also asserted that the party is based on four principle, which are love, understanding, peace and truth. “I am requesting all the people of the state to come forward to support the party, socially and professionally to bring ‘real democracy’ in the state, ” urged Sharmila.

She will contest in two constituency of the 60 member Manipur Legislative Assembly.  Sharmila will contest the polls from Thoubal, the home constituency of Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, and her home constituency, Khurai in Imphal East District.

On October 5, a district court had acquitted rights activist Sharmila in the attemptted suicide case. Chief Judicial Magistrate of Imphal West Lamkhanpao Tonsing acquitted her of the charges under IPC section 309, which is attempt to commit suicide.

 (Photo: Ambert Luwang)

(Photo: Ambert Luwang)

After the court acquitted her of all charges, Sharmila told media persons outside the court that, she would launch her political party this month itself to contest the Manipur Assembly election due for early next year.

On August 9, the 44-year-old activist was released on bail by the same CJM after she signed a Personal Recognition (PR) Bond.  Recently, the human rights activist met Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal in New Delhi and sought later’s advice on how to defeat the rulling political party in her state, Manipur. She expressed that she will contest against Chief Minister Okram Ibobi in Thoubal constituency to become the next Chief Minister of Manipur. Sharmila also met deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia.

On the day she broke her fast, she had announced that she will contest in the upcoming Manipur assembly election 2017 and would become the chief minister of the state by toppling the incumbent Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh. She expressed that her only sole aim is to repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in Manipur.

Irom Sharmila was on a hunger strike for 16 years, demanding repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) from Manipur and was force-fed during this period.



Irom Chanu Sharmila, in her extraordinary protest against the ‘draconian’ act, refused even a single drop of water in her thirsty mouth, as she believes that repealing AFSPA would be her paramount objective, which only would make her breathe freely in her state.

During her epic struggle, political leaders from across the country, in a bid to take advantages of her struggle, tried many a time to persuade her to contest election as a poster woman of their respective political party, which she refused every time. The lawmakers, taking photo-op, said that the act will be repealed once they come in power. Unfortunately, they all turned their back on the issue after poll results.

Irom Sharmila at Manipur Press Club

Irom Sharmila at Manipur Press Club, Imphal. (Photo: Ambert Luwang)

Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958: The controversial act, which has been faing flakes from human rights activists, provides limitless powers to security forces: arrest anyone without a warrant; shoot at sight at anyone on the mere suspicion that someone has committed or was about to commit a cognisable offence. In addition to this, the act prohibits any legal or judicial proceedings against army personnel, without the sanction of the Central Government.

Bishwajit Aribam
He primarily follows political and north-east India related stories. He has earlier worked with investigative magazine, tehelka.com. He can be contacted at bishwajit@naradanews.com