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Sharmila floats new party; to take on Ibobi

 IMPHAL, Oct 18 - Human rights activist Irom Chanu Sharmila, who recently ended the world’s longest hunger strike demanding repeal of the Armed Forces Special Power Act 1958, today launched the Peoples’ Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA), a political party aimed at ushering in “non-violence, peace and understanding” in Manipur.

Launching the new party at a crowded press conference here this afternoon, the 44-year-old woman, also known as ‘Iron Lady of Manipur’, said that her movement is to bring the real meaning of democracy where right to justice is delivered. “We need people’s support for bringing the change,” she said.

On forming of the new political party, which is based on the principles of justice, understanding, love and peace, Sharmila said that this new approach will ensure achievement of the goal.

Protesting the killing of 10 innocent persons by security personnel near Imphal on November 2, 2000, Sharmila went on a fast since then, demanding repeal of the AFSPA that ensured Army personnel didn’t face trial for alleged atrocities against the people. The Act is currently in force in the NE States and Jammu and Kashmir. She broke her fast on August 9 this year, saying she wanted to join politics to become the Chief Minister so that she can repeal the draconian AFSPA.

Sharmila will contest from two Assembly constituencies – Khurai and Khangabok. Khangabok is the home constituency of Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh, the longest serving Chief Minister of the State, while Khurai is Sharmila’s native constituency. She said her party will field around 20 candidates in the upcoming polls.

“So far three candidates (including Sharmila) have confirmed joining the fray from four Assembly constituencies,” said PRJA convener Erendro Leichonbam, who will be contesting from Thangmeiband constituency in the heart of Imphal town.

The other candidate is a social worker, Phundreimayum Najima of Santhel village, who would be the first ever Muslim lady contesting in Assembly elections from Wabagai constituency, Erendro, an Associate Professor of Economics in a private institute, said.

IANS adds: “I want to become the Chief Minister to repeal the AFSPA... Since Ibobi has kept all sections of the people in his constituency satisfied, they may reject me. But I want to know whether people in other districts in general and the hills in particular were well looked after. Since my mission is to repeal the AFSPA, I am throwing the gauntlet to the Chief Minister,” Sharmila said.

Earlier in the day, Sharmila visited Johnstone Higher Secondary School in the heart of Imphal city where the first session of the elected Assembly of Manipur was held on October 18, 1948.

“I have come seeking blessings here since this is the cornerstone of democracy,” she said.

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