Irom Sharmila, who has been on hunger strike for the past 13 years demanding repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, donated Rs. 4 lakh to the International Red Cross shortly before she was rearrested on Friday for attempting to commit suicide.
She handed over the cheque to the president of the All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union as the Red Cross is not allowed into Manipur, which the government has designated as a conflict zone.
The humanitarian work done by the Red Cross, Ms. Sharmila said, was well known and yet the Centre was not permitting it to work in Jammu and Kashmir and the northeast.
The money was a part of the national and international fund she was given in appreciation of her crusade, Ms. Sharmila said. In an earlier instance, she had given financial assistance to rickshaw pullers in Manipur.
Later, talking to R.K. Ranjan, the BJP candidate from the Inner Manipur seat, she said the country would not benefit if politicians contested elections for wealth and status. She pointedly asked Mr. Ranjan, a former Registrar of Manipur University, if he would be able to repeal the AFSPA if he won. Mr. Ranjan replied that he would do his best but could not say with certainty that the Act would be repealed.
Soon after, the police arrested her from the ramshackle office of the Save Sharmila Organisation. Though she has to be produced in court periodically, Ms. Sharmila will be released again next March.