Popularly known as the ‘Iron Lady of Manipur’, activist-turned-politician Irom Sharmila gave birth to twin girls on Mother’s Day in Bengaluru. On Sunday the  44-year-old, who is known for her 16-year hunger strike against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act or AFSPA in Manipur, married her long-time partner Desmond Coutinho, a British national, in 2017, Bangalore Mirror reported.

The twins, Nix Shakhi and Autumn Tara, were born a minute apart. Her obstetrician-gynecologist, Dr Sripada Vinekar said both the mother and the babies were doing fine. “Delivering on Mother’s Day was a pure coincidence. It wasn’t planned. They didn’t even realise the coincidence until I told them about it. We were planning to operate next week but Sharmila had to be rushed into the hospital on Saturday night due to early labour pains. She is a strong lady. We plan to discharge her by Tuesday or Wednesday,” said Dr Vinekar.

“This is a new life, a new beginning for me. I am very happy. Neither Desmond nor I had any preference, we just wanted healthy children,” said Sharmila The Indian Express. She began a hunger strike when she was 28-years-old.

Pointing out that her husband Coutinho, who is a heart patient, was exhausted, Sharmila said she was too excited to sleep herself. “I have had a couple of visitors and the nurses here have been celebrating with me. My daughters have been born on Mother’s Day and I am doubly happy because of that. I feel that is significant,” she said.

Talking about the couple, Dr Vinekar added, “They are such a fantastic, humble couple. Even when they would come for check-ups, they would sit outside the cabin, quietly, waiting for their turn.”

“My husband chose the name Nix, which is Latin for snow. He wanted our daughter to be cool and calm like the snow,” Sharmila said. Their second daughter has been named after “a Buddhist goddess, the female reincarnation of the Buddha”.

The couple is settled in Kodaikanal after their marriage in 2017, but was visiting Bengaluru for the operation. Dr Vinekar said, “I don’t know why they chose Bengaluru. I was also a little surprised when they approached me. All I can say is that I am quite excited to be a part of their journey. The Sharmila that I got to see is different. I saw a softer side to her.”

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Sharmila ended her nearly 16-year hunger strike, the world’s longest, against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in Manipur on August 9, 2016. She said she wanted to become Manipur’s chief minister so that she could repeal the contentious AFSPA.

She had also launched her political party, People’s Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA). She founded the party with a few youth supporters, who have been supporting her since year 2000, to challenge the Congress party’s rules. The party also has its own website – prja.in. She fought from Thoubal constituency against three-time Manipur chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh.

Coutanho, on the other hand, is an Irish national, is of Goan origin.

Feature Image Credit: News 18

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