For 16 long years Irom Sharmila was forced to eat food by a state that considered her a criminal for fasting. Sharmila began her fast in 2000, saying that she wouldn't eat until the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act – which had been shown to enable state abuse with impunity – is repealed from her home state of Manipur. Then, suddenly, earlier this year Sharmila decided to end her fast and contest elections.

Asked in a recent interview (video above) about how she feels since giving up her fast, Irom Sharmila said smiling that she feels like she has “become alive completely”.

Sharmila gave up her fast on August 9 after which she has been planning the next steps to take in her political career after slowly regaining her health after nearly fasting for nearly 16 years. On October 5, a court in Imphal acquitted her of the attempted suicide case. “Now that I’m a free woman, I’ll convene a new political party on October 10 to fight the coming election,” she told The Hindu.

In the video above she speaks about the lack of attention paid to Northeast issues in mainstream media, the backlash she faced after giving up her fast and her future political plans.

“I think government’s adamant nature is also a consequent effect of the mainstream media,” Sharmila said. “Because, I feel that national media is only interested in me and my breaking of fast but they are not interested in knowing of the real situation of Manipur. Of how they live. Of how they face the army.”

“They just misunderstand my break of fast,” she said of the criticism she faced following her August 9 declaration that she would break it adding, “but their inner feeling, they remain respecting me, and their emotions, for me still remain unchanged I think.”

The activist also said that she didn’t want to be confined to Manipur’s problems. “Because all the northeast states are similarly suffering from discrimination, racial attacks.”

Sharmila also met Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. She explained the visit, “I met with the chief minister, only because he invited me and I felt, as he had been struggling, for long for anti-corruption movement is I think a symbol of people’s power in politics. I felt I needed counselling on how did they win.”