New Delhi: Social activist Irom Sharmila, who has been on fast for about 12 years demanding the repeal of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), refused to plead guilty of attempting suicide, and a Delhi court framed charges against her.

Metropolitan Magistrate Akash Jain framed charges against her for attempt to commit suicide and issued show cause notice to Sharmila after she refused to plead guilty.

She told the court that she "loves life and does not want to take her life". Sharmila, who was present in the court, refused that she attempted to commit suicide here at Jantar Matnar in 2006.

She said: "I only want justice." "If I wanted to commit suicide I might have died. My protest was non-violent for my demand, just to live as human being," she added. She appeared before the court under IPC 309 (attempt to commit suicide) for fasting at Jantar Mantar in Delhi.

The court hearing the case told Sharmila: "We respect you but the law of land does not permit you to take your life." When asked if she tried to commit suicide she replied "No". The court earlier told her counsel to explain to her that maximum punishment in the case was a few months to a year and that she has been in custody for more than 6 years, so if she pleads guilty, the case would be settled Monday.

Irom Sharmila supporters protest outside Delhi court

Demanding revocation of the AFSPA over 30 supporters of Manipur's "Iron Lady" Irom Sharmila Chanu gathered outside Patiala House Court Monday morning and raised slogans in support of her campaign. The renowned rights activist has been on an indefinite hunger strike since Nov 2, 2000 in Manipur, demanding the withdrawal of AFSPA from the state after witnessing the killing of 10 people by the army at a bus stop near her home.

Raising slogans "we want justice" Bhavan Meiti, a journalist from Manipur said: "We demand the repeal of the draconian AFSPA which violates the human rights of people in the name of curbing the insurgency. We are with her (Irom Sharmila) the 'Iron Lady' of Manipur."

"The army often misuses the power given to it by the government. The demand to revoke AFSPA is not the demand by the people or by few activists, but even the committee appointed by the central government has recommended it," Meiti said.

Sharmila appeared at the Patiala House Court in connection with a fast unto death protest she had staged against AFSPA at Jantar Mantar here in 2006.

Meanwhile, another protester Djorgi, a student from northeast said that Irom Sharmila is not just an activist fighting for a cause in the northeast, but a symbol of "women power". "She is not a terrorist. Nobody has been allowed to meet her and she is not allowed to meet anybody. The way she is being confined for such a long time is violation of human rights," Alok Singh, from Krantikari Yuva Sanghatan, said.

Sharmila, who has been on fast for about 12 years demanding the repeal of the controversial AFSPA was flown to Delhi from Manipur Sunday, reached the court here in the attempt to suicide case, slapped against her due to her 2006 protest. She is now in judicial custody and is being forcibly fed with a feeding tube through the nose.

(Agencies)

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