IMPHAL -- Manipur's 'Iron Lady' Irom Chanu Sharmila, who has been on a hunger strike for the past 16 years demanding repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), today announced her decision to end the fast on 9 August and contest state Assembly elections.
"I will end my fast on August 9 and contest elections," the 44-year-old rights activist announced before the media after coming out from a local court.
She said she no longer believes that her fast will lead to the repeal of the "draconian" AFSPA but she will continue the fight.
"That is why I will join politics and my fight will continue," said Sharmila who has refused to eat or drink anything since November, 2000.
Assembly elections in Manipur are scheduled in 2017.
Sharmila is forcibly fed through a nasal tube in Imphal's Jawahar Lal Nehru Hospital, a special ward of which acts as her prison.
She had been arrested, released and then re-arrested from time to time on the charge of making an attempt to commit suicide. The maximum punishment under Section 309 of IPC is a one-year jail term.