Imphal: Soon after a team of policewomen dragged a struggling and screaming Irom Sharmila away from the tin shack that is the site of her protest this morning, Manipur's deputy chief minister emphasised that she has not been arrested. (Also read: Finally, Irom Sharmila's Smile Reaches Her Eyes)
"We are taking care of her life. She is insisting on fasting. If her health is deteriorating, we have to take care, Gaikhangam Gangmei said, adding, "Irom is very precious to us, she is exemplary. We need her to live long. We want her to use her powers in a constructive way." (Read: Irom Sharmila Continues Hunger Strike Near Jail Hospital After Release)
The policewomen surrounded Sharmila, and when she resisted, forcibly picked up the frail activist - one holding her arms, another her legs - put her in the back of a police van and drove her away to a hospital. Her supporters shouted and wept. (Irom Sharmila May Have to Return to Hospital Soon: Family)
A doctor who accompanied the police said he feared Sharmila would collapse. Last night she had refused to let doctors examine her. "I have said I will not allow a medical check-up. I don't know why they are disturbing me," said Sharmila. (Late-night Drama: Irom Sharmila Resists Police Bid to Conduct Medical Check-up)
Irom Sharmila, 42, was last force-fed on Wednesday afternoon before she was released from jail. She has had no sustenance since.
The activist is continuing her 14-year hunger strike but says it is not a fast unto death. She says she will fast till the Armed Forces Special Powers Act or AFSPA is removed from Manipur. The law gives soldiers sweeping powers to arrest or interrogate people in "disturbed areas" or states dealing with separatists or insurgents. (Read: Irom Sharmila Says Happy to be Released, But Will Continue Fast)
The activist was released this week after a court decided she cannot be charged with attempted suicide for refusing food and water. The police are confounded by the court order, which says the state has to take care of Sharmila's health and feed her through a nasal tube if necessary.
Re-arresting her is difficult, as by sitting on protest she is not violating any law.
Sharmila began her fast in November 2000, days after 10 people, including two children, were shot dead in Imphal, allegedly by Assam Rifles soldiers. Three days later, she was charged with attempt to suicide and arrested.