Irom Sharmila wishes to marry, here’s what we know about her ‘soulmate’


Iron Sharmila announced today that she would recast her struggle by breaking her fast and contesting elections. She told the district court that she will end her fast on August 9.

The 44-year-old also informed the court – where she is required to mark attendance every 15 days – that she wants to marry. If rumours are to be believed, the groom is none other than her 'boyfriend' of many years, Desmond Coutinho. Here is what you need to know about this man:

Desmond Coutinho

When 48-year-old Desmond Coutinho read about her struggle in Burning Bright, a book by Deepti Priya Mehrotra, he wrote a letter to Sharmila in 2009. Since then, the two have been exchanging letters regularly. Cupid struck, and in Coutinho, Sharmila found her soulmate.

He came to Imphal for the first time in February 2011 and finally managed to meet her on March 9 at a court, just before she was released for a brief period. "Yes, he loves me a lot and cares for me," says Sharmila, blushing like a teenager.

Coutinho is of Goan origin but a British citizen.


The union, however, never went down well with her supporters. Coutinho had to fast for two days before the activists relented and allowed him to meet her a couple of years back. The problem started when Coutinho insisted on sitting by Sharmila at the meira shang (women's shelter) where the Meira Paibis (women activists) gathered following Sharmila's release from jail. Agitated activists were on the verge of manhandling him before the police came to his rescue.

Sharmila does want to go back to a normal life and get married once her goal is achieved. For now, the steely resolve hasn't flagged one bit. The Class XII dropout, who quit studies because she believed she did not know how to pass an examination, has put her entire life to test.