TODAY -

'State abuse tool' tag sits uneasy on AFSPA
Source: The Sangai Express

New Delhi, December 08 2012: "AFSPA has become a tool for State abuse, oppression and discrimination in conflict-ridden regions across India.

The law grants the military unbridled powers to arrest without warrants, shoot to kill and do anything whatever the forces fancy.

This culture of impunity need to stop immediately," South Asia Director of Human Rights Watch, Meenakshi Ganguly told The Sangai Express.

Piling the heat on the Government of India to repeal the infamous Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) to avert further violation of fundamental human rights of people living in the North East region and Jammu and Kashmir, scholars speaking at a training programme on conflict resolution and peace building at Nelson Mandela Centre for Conflict Resolution and Peace Building, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi today said that the law is 'colonial in nature and a 'symbol of abuse' exercised by the Indian military.

"The Government of India is involved in the culture of abuse and impunity for nearly sixty years now.

They (Government) need to ponder over the draconian law at the earliest in order to avoid further abuses and protect the rights of civil population of these States," Meenakshi said, adding "Only the laws that are accepted in the civilized society need to be implemented.

There has to be laws under which the police and forces treat the civilians with dignity" .

She said that the AFSPA has not only led to human rights violations, but also allowed members of the armed forces to perpetrate abuses with impunity.

"Army has been shielded by clauses in the AFSPA that prohibit prosecutions from being initiated without permission from the Central Government.

And we hardly have any example of any army officer being prosecuted for the abuse in such States.

So we believe the permission is rarely granted in this regard," she added.

Enacted on August 18, 1958 as a short-term measure to allow deployment of the army against an armed separatist movement in India's northeastern Naga Hills, the AFSPA has been invoked for decades together now.

Meenakshi Ganguly, head of HRW South Asia said that AFSPA has since been used throughout the northeast, particularly in Assam, Nagaland, Tripura and Manipur.

A variant of the law was also used in Punjab during a separatist movement in the 1980s and 90s, and has been in force in Jammu and Kashmir since 1990 .

"The word, AFSPA is a most hated word in these areas and it needs an immediate death," she said, adding "In case of Kashmir, we should give credit to the chief Minister, Omar Abdullah for being vocal against the draconian law" .

Other keen observers on North East and Kashmir also said that the Government of India's responsibility to protect civilians from attacks by militants does not warrant an abusive law like the AFSPA.

The director, centre for North Eastern Studies, JMI,Sanjay Hazarika said that the army have been given so exhaustive powers under AFSPA that it is even impossible for the Government to repeal it.

"The recommendations by the Justice Jeevan Reddy committee are eating dust and the government doesn't seem to be serious in addressing the issue," he added.

The chairperson of the National commission on Minorities and the former Chief Information Commissioner, Wajjahat Habibullah termed AFSPA as "colonial, undemocratic Act that is without face" .

"AFSPA is an undemocratic and uncivilized law that still prevails in the parts of India and gives ultimate impunity to the army to decide and shoot the civil population on mere suspicion," Habibullah told participants at the three-week training programme " .

He further remarked that India has an obsession of suppressing civil movements with military force.

Habibullah said that the in the current societal structures, such laws made government irrelevant for the civil population.

"Now this undemocratic law should either be amended or repealed from the places like Jammu and Kashmir and Northeast to give people a sigh of relief, and win back their trust," he said.

Altogether three delegates from Manipur are participating in the programe at the initiative of Rotary Club of Imphal and Rotary Club of Polo City.


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