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Remove restrictions on Irom Sharmila: NHRC

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The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has recommended that the government immediately remove the "arbitrary restrictions" on Irom Sharmila, who has been fast since November 2000 seeking repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act from the state, an official statement said Wednesday.

The commission, in a communication to the state chief secretary, said Sharmila must be permitted to receive visitors as do all people in judicial custody. Sharmila was arrested by the Manipur government soon after she began her fast and has ever since been in custody, where she is being force fed.

The asked for a report by Dec 6 on the steps taken on its recommendation.

The commission issued the recommendation after the state government denied permission to its special rapporteur, a retired director general of police, and to special rapporteurs of the United Nations to visit Sharmila.

"It is unlikely that the government gives others access to her. It appeared they were keeping her alive as her death would create problems for the state government. It is trying to break her spirit through this enforced isolation, for which there is no judicial mandate, though she is in judicial custody," the NHRC statement said.

Two members of the commission, accompanied by senior officers, had met Sharmila Oct 23 during a visit to the state.

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