Irom Sharmila, the civil rights activist who sat on a hunger strike for 16 long years demanding the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from Manipur, married her long-time partner Desmond Coutinho in Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu on Thursday. Sharmila married Coutinho, a British citizen, under the Special Marriage Act at the sub-registrar’s office in Kodaikanal. Families of the couple were not present at the ceremony. Since their communion was inter-religious, the couple had to get married under the Special Marriage Act. A memorandum supporting the marriage was submitted by a tribal community to the sub-registrar.
PTI quoted the activist saying that her search for peace had ended in Kodaikanal, a hill station in Dindigul district of the state, and that she would raise her voice for the rights of tribals in the area.
Sharmila had erupted to fame after she started a fast on November 2, 2000 after the killing of ten civilians in Malom town of Manipur allegedly by security forces. She spent the next 16 years getting arrested, then released and getting re-arrested on the charge of committing suicide. She refused to eat anything and was force-fed.
Last year, on August 9, she ended her fast vowing to enter politics and become the chief minister of Manipur with the aim of repealing AFSPA. However, in March elections this year, she lost out to outgoing CM Okram Ibobi Singh of the Congress and her party was humiliated. Post the election results, Sharmila said she would quit politics.
Sharmila’s mother Irom Sakhi told the Hindustan Times that she was hopeful that her daughter would be happy in life.
(With inputs from PTI)