Court orders release of hunger striker Irom Sharmila

A court has ordered the release of Irom Sharmila, 42, who has been on a hunger strike for 14 years in protest at special powers given to the army to use against rebels. She has been force-fed in Manipur by the authorities who used the law against suicide for the purpose. Now India's recent decriminalisation of suicide could mean that the authorities will find it harder to detain her again as they did last year when a court set aside the charges against her. At the time she vowed to continue with her fast so she was re-charged and taken into custody again. Sharmila who is also known as the Iron Lady of Manipur has been fasting to protest the Armed Force Special Powers Act that allows the army to search and enter properties, make arrests, and shoot on sight. Amnesty International's India Programme Director Shemeer Babu said the judgement must end the farcical cycle of arrest and re-arrest that Sharmila has faced for so long, and he urged the authorities to engage with the issues Sharmila has raised during her long painful campaign.