NEW DELHI (AP) — India's most famous prisoner of conscience has been forcibly taken for a medical test by police Friday, days after she was freed after nearly 14 years in prison for fasting to protest against an Indian law that suspends many human rights protections in areas of conflict, activists said.

Babloo Loitongbam, a local rights activist involved with Irom Sharmila's campaign, said police have said Sharmila's health needed to be monitored.

Sharmila, 42, has not eaten voluntarily since November 2000 and faced charges of attempting suicide — a crime in India — which a court threw out Tuesday. The court said that based on the evidence before it, Sharmila was not fasting to kill herself but to protest against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

During her years in incarceration, Sharmila was kept in a government hospital in Imphal, the capital of Manipur state, and by law was released once a year to see if she would start eating. When she did not, she was taken back into custody and force fed.

During her years in prison she was force fed her through a tube in her nose. Sharmila had vowed to keep fasting after she was released.

It was not immediately clear if the police plan to detain her or press fresh charges, and several calls to local police officials went unanswered.

On Friday television footage showed the frail activist caught in a scuffle between protesters and policewomen taking her away. She was taken to the same hospital where she spent most of her incarceration.


The Armed Forces Special Powers Act is in effect in Indian-ruled Kashmir and in northeastern areas wracked by separatist insurgencies. The law says troops have the right to shoot to kill suspected rebels without fear of possible prosecution and to arrest suspected militants without a warrant. It also gives police wide-ranging powers of search and seizure.

The law prohibits soldiers from being prosecuted for alleged rights violations unless granted express permission from the federal government. Such prosecutions are rare.