Two days after she was released on court orders, civil rights activist Irom Chanu Sharmila was today re-arrested by the police on fresh charges of attempt to commit suicide and remanded to judicial custody by the court.
"We re-arrested her this morning and have obtained 15 days' judicial custody order from a magistrate of the CJM court on charges of attempt to commit suicide (Section 309 of IPC)," Manipur ADG (Intelligence) Santosh Macherla told PTI.
42-year-old Sharmila was this morning forcibly taken away to the Jawahar Lal Nehru Hospital from a makeshift shelter near it where she was continuing her 14-year-old fast demanding repeal of the 'draconian' Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
A local court in Imphal had on Tuesday freed her of charges of attempt to commit suicide by means of fasting after which she walked out of the hospital-turned-prison on Wednesday.
"The court released her for her past act. Now she is again refusing to take food and water and resisting any medical check-up as well. Her health had deteriorated and now she will be kept at the same hospital ward where she was kept earlier," Macherla said.
During the day a magistrate from the CJM court visited the hospital where she was kept and gave the order of judicial custody after hearing the case, he said.
"She will be nose-fed forcibly like what was done earlier," the police official said.
Her family members, meanwhile, complained that while being whisked away from the protest site, Sharmila was handled roughly by the policemen.
"Her hand was hurt badly and a nail broke off. We are worried as her health is growing weak. We will consult our lawyer in the matter and plead before the court to release her again," he said condemning Sharmila's re-arrest.
Various civil rights groups in the state also termed the move to re-arrest her despite an earlier court order as "illegal".
"This is a case of illegal detention by the police against a peaceful protester who has spent 48 hours without food and water. The court has already released Sharmila. Then how can she be arrested again on the same charges? We strongly condemn this," Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network founder Binalakshmi Nepram told PTI.
Demanding repeal of AFSPA, she said, "The arrest of a peaceful protester who is following the Gandhian way is a blot on our democracy."
Before Sharmila was whisked away this morning, officials had said that her condition was deteriorating. They said doctors tried to feed her through nose but she refused and her health was deteriorating very fast.
Even after her release, the former journalist-cum-social activist had decided to keep her vow of neither entering her house nor meeting her mother till the government repeals AFSPA.
"I will continue to fast till my demand (withdrawal of AFSPA) is met. The order of the sessions court that I am not attempting to commit suicide (by launching fast to remove the controversial Act) is welcome," she had said.
She had launched her fast unto death in November, 2000 after Assam Rifles killed 10 people at Malom area here in an alleged encounter with insurgents.
How much government has spent tax payers' money to keep this lady alive? When the government is sure that it is not going to abolish AFSPA as she is demanding, might as well let her wish to die peacefully be fulfilled and then burry her unceremoneously.