Human rights activist Irom Sharmila, on hunger strike for the last 14 years in protest against alleged army atrocities, has been re-arrested a day after being released from detention in India’s northeastern Manipur state.
The activist was released from a state hospital after a court found no evidence to support earlier charges filed by state prosecutors that she was trying to commit suicide by refusing food but was promptly re-arrested on Friday on the same charges.
The Times of India reported on Friday that Sharmila was arrested under section 309 of the Indian Penal Code for attempt to commit suicide.
“She has been arrested for the same crime but it is a different case. For the last case she was released by the court and we arrested her under a new case,” Superintendent of Police Jhaljit was quoted as having said.
She is in a government hospital under police watch where she is force fed through the nose.
Sharmila, known as the Iron Lady of Manipur, began her fast in November 2000 after 10 people were killed in a shooting at a bus stop near her home in Manipur. Activists blame the army for the killings but no arrests have been made in the case.
The activist has been calling for justice and repeal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that gives security forces sweeping powers, including the power to shoot people dead on mere suspicion, while operating in areas afflicted by rebellions.
Despite calls from judicial inquiries and human rights groups, the federal government has kept in force the draconian law in parts of northeast India and mainly-Muslim Kashmir to allow the military to contain armed rebellion.
In August last year, a Manipur court ordered her release after concluding her hunger strike was a “political demand through lawful means”. She was however re-arrested three days later for allegedly attempting to commit suicide.