TODAY -

To repeal or amend. What should we do with this AFSPA

Tehelka Magazine | Avalok Langer | Vol 8, Issue 39, Dated 01 Oct 2011



IN THE Rann of Kutch, the sighting of a military jonga brings kids on the road, waving, laughing, chasing the vehicle. Others salute the jeep as it passes. The same is likely to happen in Jammu. But in Kashmir and most parts of the Northeast, young boys and girls take aim with imaginary guns, shooting as a convoy passes.

It is the same army, the same soldiers, but the stark difference in their role creates the duality. Along the western border, the Indian Army stands guard against an external enemy. But in Kashmir and the Northeast, the army, performing a policing role, has fallen from grace.

But, why is the army deployed within our own borders when law and order is a state subject? The security mechanism dictates that each state government should have its own security machinery - the police, armed police and in some cases special groups like the Anti-Terrorism Squad to manage law and order. If they are unable to tackle a problem, Central forces such as the CRPF, RAF, ITBP and BSF are deployed under the operational control of the state. It is only when the Governor feels that the state's efforts have failed and armed forces are needed, the region is declared a 'disturbed area' and the army is brought in.

An army officer agrees the Act provides impunity from a civil trial, but not from justice. "It may seem that there exists impunity as military personnel are not tried in civilian courts, but justice comes in the form of the Army Act, which comes under the statutes of the Constitution," he says. "The proof is the numerous court martials of personnel serving in CI-Ops (counterinsurgency operations) areas. Other countries that have suffered from insurgencies have created teams like the 'gendarmerie', a military force charged with police duties among civilian population. They have the backing of the Constitution and don't need laws like AFSPA. But we have opted to send the army, so we need such a law."




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