Source: The Sangai Express
Imphal, Jun 07:
Human rights activist and senior advocate of Supreme Court Colin Gonsalves has stated that prolonged imposition of Armed Forces Special Powers' Act, 1958 in Manipur is a great betrayal to its people and the institution of the review committee a wicket ploy of the Centre to suppress public outburst against the oppressive Act.
Speaking at the inaugural session of the two-day consultation on 'Critical socio-legal issues of Manipur' organised jointly by Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), New Delhi and Human Rights Alert, (HRA), Imphal at Hotel Excellency here today, Gonsalves, who is also the founding director of HRLN, said prolonged imposition AFSPA is a 'great betrayal to the people of Manipur' and it should be repealed immediately.
instituting a Committee to review such draconian Act by the Centre is also nothing but a wicket ploy to subdue the public outburst against the Act, Gonsalves derided.
Prolonged imposition of AFSPA has caused untold suffering to the people of Manipur and resulted in increasing number of frustrated youth to take up arms, he observed while pointing that the dos and don'ts laid down by the Supreme Court have not been effectively followed by the military personnel.
Referring to the case of brutal killing of Thangjam Manorama Devi in the custody of Assam Rifles, in which the AR authorities claimed she was killed while attempting to flee, Gonsalves asked 'can anyone believe that Manorama, whose physical structure was small could escape from the strong 17 AR personnel who received training in mountain warfare?'.
While paying respect to the people of Manipur who have been relentlessly fighting for repealing AFSPA, Gonsalves said, 'your unity in fighting against the excesses of armed forces would be a victory for the whole country'.
He also lauded Irom Chanu Sharmila, who has been on fast for nearly six years demanding complete repealing of the draconian Act.
'She has become the spirit of the struggle and a true leader', Gonsalves said.
Earlier, inaugurating the session as chief guest, Chairperson of Manipur Human Rights Commission Justice (Retired) WA Shishak called upon all the intellectuals, scholars, doctors, advocates and politicians in Manipur to raise their concern and voice against prolonged imposition of AFSPA.
So far it is the common people who are in the forefront of the movement for removal of AFSPA and the involvement of the intellectuals, scholars, doctors, advocates and politicians is almost nil, he pointed out.
The common people of Manipur have suffered long enough under AFSPA and it should go away, he said.
Among other resource persons, who spoke at the inaugural session of the consultation being held under the theme of 'Human rights violation under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958, Grievances of People living with HIV/AIDS and Trafficking of women and children', president of All Manipur Bar Association Khaidem Mani described as a license given to the army to kill anybody on the pretext of counter insurgency operation.
However, he hasten to add, that it would be a fallacy to think that peace and normalcy would automatically return to Manipur once AFSPA is removed.
But definitely it would help in lessening the suffering of the people to some extent, Khaidem said, while observing that for peace and normalcy to return, Government of India and the underground organisations should engage in apolitical dialogue with a clear understanding on the root of insurgency movement in Manipur.
Programme manager of Human Rights Alert Joykumar Wahengbam pointed out that security personnel try to cover up cases of rights violation, specially in remote and hill regions by giving some interim relief to the families of the victims.
Such mutual agreement is really unfortunate not only for the people of Manipur but also for protectors of human rights in other parts of the world, he said.
HRA executive director Babloo Loitongbam were also among other leaders of various civil organisations who spoke at the occasion.