Irom Sharmila has twins on Mother’s Day

Perfect gift

Activist Irom Chanu Sharmila with her husband Desmond Coutinha after their wedding in Kodaikanal in 2017. PTI file

Irom Chanu Sharmila, known for her 16-year-long hunger strike in protest of the alleged atrocities of the army in Manipur, demanding to repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), 1958, delivered twin girls on Mother’s Day in Malleswaram, Bengaluru.

Doctors said Sharmila’s condition was stable and she was too exhausted to talk to the media. Her husband, Desmond Coutinho, gave this reporter a bear hug and said “he was the happiest man in the world”. 

Dr Sriparda Vinekar, obstetrician and gynaecologist, in charge of the cesarean, said the procedure went by the book.

“The couple has been in Bengaluru since the first month of Sharmila’s pregnancy. So, we were monitoring her progress. She gave birth today at 9.21 am,” the doctor said.

The twins, weighing over 2 kg each, are named Nix Shakhi and Autumn Tara. “Both mother and babies are doing fine,” Dr Vinekar confirmed.

Sharmila, (47), began her hunger strike back in November 2000, after the fatal shooting of 10 civilians, allegedly by the troops in Malom, Manipur. She had pledged to end her strike only after AFSPA, which gave the army extra-judicial powers, was scrapped.

She collapsed six days into her strike on November 11, 2000, and thereafter was fortified with a Ryle’s tube, feeding nutrients directly into her body. In 2014, she weighed 46 kg, nine kg lower than the national average for women.

Repeatedly arrested for “attempted suicide”, she continued with resolve.

On August 9, 2016, with AFSPA still in force, Sharmila licked a drop of honey off her hand, signalling the end of her protest, pledging to enter politics to continue her fight against the act.

Nominated in 2005 for the Peace Nobel, she is often called ‘The Iron Lady of Manipur’ and ‘Mengoubi’, meaning ‘The Fair One’. 

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