Barely three days after her release from jail, Manipur's human rights activist Irom Chanu Sharmila was re-arrested on Friday.
The police said she was re-arrested under Section 309 (attempt to commit suicide). A lower court in Manipur had on Tuesday absolved her of the same charge saying the prosecution had failed to establish the case against her. At the same time, the court left room for her detention, if not arrest.
"From her past conduct, it seems that she may continue with the fast till her demand is met politically by the government. Under the circumstances, the state government may take up appropriate measures for her health and safety, such as nose-feeding etc," the court had said while ordering her release.
Following her release, Sharmila continued her fast from a temporary shed in Imphal, used by her followers to stage sit-ins in support of her movement.
What does Manipur govt say about her re-arrest?
"The re-arrest was made to avoid further deterioration of her health", said Manipur deputy chief minister Gaikhangam. He did not elaborate though. The state's additional director general of police Santosh Macherla also said, "She has been re-arrested under Section 309 to avoid deterioration of her health. Further legal proceedings are on".
Where is she now?
Following re-arrest, she was shifted to the special ward of the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal for medical aid. The 42-year-old activist, on an indefinite hunger strike since 2000, has spent long years in this hospital, which was converted into a jail for her.
What is Sharmila's condition?
On Friday, Sharmila's supporters resisted her re-arrest by the police leading to a scuffle between them. The police used force when repeatedly asked by Sharmila and her supporters about the charge against her. Sharmila sports long toe nails and during the scuffle, one of those purportedly broke off causing injuries to her.
How did the family react?
"We condemn the police action. This is unfortunate that she has been re-arrested on a charge which she has been absolved of by the court only three days ago," Sharmila's brother Singhjit said. He said they would now consult their lawyer and plead before the court to secure her release again.
"We condemn the violent act of the police on a non-violent activist. The arrest is in violation of the law," said Babloo Loitongbam of Manipur-based Human Rights Alert. The Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network and Sharmila Kanba Lup, a women's body, have also condemned it.
What is Sharmila's demand?
She demands the repeal of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 from Manipur. The Act gives special powers to the armed forces to search, arrest civilians without a warrant and shoot to kill on suspicion.