44-year-old Irom Sharmila, the iconic activist who didn't eat for 16 years in protest against alleged army atrocities in Manipur, burst into tears on 9 August as she licked honey from her palm to end her fast.

Making the first move towards a new life that will include politics and marriage, Sharmila said: "I am not a goddess, I want to be a human being. I want to be Chief Minister of Manipur to make a positive difference."

This morning, the frail, wiry 44-year-old left, for the last time, the prison hospital in which she spent years being force-fed through a plastic tube after being arrested for attempted suicide.
With her first taste of food, she winced, then wept for several moments.

Ms. Sharmila ended her fast exactly a month after the Supreme Court judgment questioned the immunity enjoyed by the security personnel under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958 (AFSPA) against criminal action for acts committed in disturbed areas. The apex court had said last month that there was no concept of “absolute immunity” from trial by a criminal court if an Army man had committed an offence.

Ms. Sharmila started her fast at the age of 28 following a massacre in Imphal in which 10 persons were killed. She has been demanding repeal of the draconian AFSPA.