A district court in Imphal on Wednesday acquitted Manipur activist Irom Chanu Sharmila in an attempt to suicide case, leaving her free of charges for the first time in 16 years. Chief Judicial Magistrate of Imphal West Lamkhanpao Tonsing said the prosecution did not provide sufficient evidence to prove her guilt.
The rights activists has been arrested, released and rearrested on charges of attempt to commit suicide, after she began fasting in November, 2000, asking that the Armed Forces (Special) Powers Act is repealed in Manipur. The Act is enforced to bring under control areas that the government considered "disturbed". The activist was released on a Personal Recognition Bond on August 9 this year, the same day she ended her fast.
After the verdict, Sharmila also announced that she will float her own regional political party on October 10 to contest the Manipur Assembly election next year. "I hope I will accelerate my new mission to integrate with the people after my 16-year struggle with this [party]," she added. She will contest the polls from Thoubal, the home constituency of Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, and her poll plank will be to withdraw AFSPA, reported the Times of India.
Last month, she had met Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal and sought his advice on how to defeat “major political parties” in her state. There were rumours that she wanted to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well. According to The Indian Express, many political parties like AAP, Bharatiya Janata Party and Janata Dal (United) had offered her a ticket for the upcoming polls.