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Political parties open doors for Manipur's iron-lady Irom Sharmila

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 9 August 2016, 9:17 IST

Human rights activist Irom Sharmila on 9 August will end her 16-year-old fast. She had been on hunger strike against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

"I will break my fast as the government has failed to give any positive response. I will fight elections to resolve the issues," she told ANI earlier outside the Imphal court.

Sharmila, who is popularly known as Iron-lady of Manipur, is being welcomed by two major national political parties, Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress, after announcing that she will fight elections.

BJP on Tuesday said that it will welcome activist Irom Sharmila if she wants to join the saffron party.

BJP leader, K.H Joykishan told ANI that Sharmila contesting elections from a BJP ticket is a decision which is to be considered by the central leadership of the party.

"The BJP welcomes everyone. if she wants to join our party we will not deny her admission. But regarding tickets I cannot ensure as it is a decision of the Central leadership," said Joykishan.

Praising Irom Sharmila for her determination, the Congress on Tuesday hinted that the grand old party will welcome the iron lady of Manipur in their party, if she wishes to join the political outfit.

Manipur Congress president T.N. Haokip hailed Sharmila's decision to contest elections and said that the latter is a determined person who stands by her commitments.

"We know she is a very determined and committed person. Once she takes a decision she will stand by it. Her becoming a part of Congress is a decision of the election committee. We will welcome her if she wishes to join our party," Haokip told ANI here.

The 42-year-old Irom has been on a hunger strike since November 2000.

Irom began her hunger strike to protest against the death of 10 Manipuris who were shot dead by the Assam Rifles in Imphal.

Sharmila was arrested and released from jail several times under Section 309 for attempted suicide.

According to reports, Sharmila had earlier rejected Aam Aadmi Party's offer to contest Lok Sabha elections under its banner from the inner Manipur Lok Sabha seat in 2014.

Despite repeated calls to withdraw the AFSPA from UN experts as well as national and international groups, the Act continues to be enforced.

- with ANI inputs

First published: 9 August 2016, 9:17 IST