On November 2, 2000, in Malom, a town in the Imphal valley, the 10 civilians were allegedly shot and killed by the Assam Rifles while waiting at a bus stop. The incident later came to be known to activists as the “Malom Massacre.” The next day’s local newspapers published graphic pictures of the dead bodies, including one of a 62-year old woman, Leisangbam Ibetomi, and 18-year old Sinam Chandramani, a 1988 National Child Bravery Award winner.
As many as 42 people were dragged out from their houses and cornered at a site and severely beaten up by the personnel of the Paramilitary Force after the firing. Sharmila began to fast in protest of the killings, taking neither food nor water. Three days after she began her strike, she was arrested by the police and charged with an “attempt to commit suicide”, which is unlawful under section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, and was later transferred to judicial custody. Her health deteriorated rapidly, and the police then forcibly had to use nosogastric intubation in order to keep her alive while under arrest. Since then, Irom Sharmila has been regularly released and re-arrested every year since under IPC section 309, a person who “attempts to commit suicide” is punishable “with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year (or with fine, or with both)”.