TODAY -
PM's half baked stand on AFSPA decried
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, December 03: A number of civil society organisations which have been demanding repeal of the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, have reacted strongly to the remarks of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh who said that the Centre is considering the amendment of some provisions of the Army Act.

Dr Singh while addressing a public meeting at Kangla here yesterday had said that the provisions of the Act would be suitably amended to make it more humane, giving due regard to the protection of basic human and civil rights.

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs is working on the matter and once the amendments are in place, many of the grievances of the people of Manipur would be addressed, he had assured.

"The PM's statement will not in any way soften the people's long standing demand of scrapping the draconian Act.

We don't want any kind of modification or amendment of the Act, we want repeal of the Act", Ayekpam Langdon, one of the coordinators of the Apunba Lup emphatically stated in his reaction to the Prime Minister's comment.

A conglomerate of various civil organisations, the Apunba Lup has been spearheading the people's movement for total removal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 since troopers of 17 Assam Rifles allegedly brutally murdered Thangjam Manorama Devi in their custody in July 2004.Resolutely stating that the Lup would continue with the agitation till the Act is repealed, Langdon informed that a regional convention would be organised at Guwahati on December 7 to harden people's stand against the Act.

Representatives of various civil organisations including from the North East will deliberate on the issue during the convention to be hosted by All Assam Students' Union (AASU), she added.

In yet another joint statement signed by its co-ordinators Phulindro Konsam, Y Devadutta and Langdon Ayekpam, the Apunba Lup said the remarks of the Prime Minister of a country whose Government firmly believes in the principle of suppressing the people of Manipur is not surprising at all.

Questioning the logic behind the intention of the continued imposition of the draconian Act in Manipur with some amendments of its provisions although no such modification or amendment had ever been considered at the time of scrapping POTA, the Lup said it only revealed out how the India Government looks at the dignity and status of the Manipuris.

The Lup pointed out that AFSPA was an Act passed in 1958 when there was no insurgency problem in Manipur.

Yet its imposition on the alleged ground of containing the problem of insurgency which came much latter in Manipur has not served the stated purpose.

On the contrary, it has fuelled the problem all the more and the contention that some of the provisions of such an inhumane Act would be amended to make it more humane is akin to saying that the lives of the innocent Manipuri people would be snubbed out now by using knife instead of gun.

It is time for the people to ask themselves whether the democratic rights and the rule of law of the India Government is only for the mainland people while the entire north eastern region is simply being kept as a buffer State, the Lup said.

So the assertion of the Prime Minister that people of Manipur, who has not yet known Constitutional protection and are being killed and punished without trial, have same rights and protection like that of the mainland people is baseless, it added.

India Government should not live under the impression that deprived people of Manipur would be taken by such hollow statement because they understand that the base for national security could not be built on a place where human dignity is not honoured in the first place, the statement of the Apunba Lup said, while appealing to the people to be alert and always prepared for facing the intimidating forces that stood on the path to unity and oneness.

In his reaction to the Prime Minister's remarks, president of Manipuri Students' Federation (MSF) Soibam Sanjoy categorically stated that the PM's version is against the hopes and aspirations of the whole people of the Manipur.

The Central leaders are aware of the fact that the Act is draconian and that the security forces, under the shadow of the Act, has been committing gross violation of human rights on the innocent civilians, he said, adding " This shows that we are still looked down discriminately".

The federation would continue to join and support the people's movement for scrapping the Act, he said.

Executive Director of Human Rights Alert (HRA) Babloo Loitongbam said the Prime Minister's statement is a big disappointment.

Amendment is not acceptable to all , he added.

In his comment, president of Naga Peoples' Organization (NPO), Senapati district M Dili, president said PM's statement is noting but befooling the people.

Why should such oppressive Act be imposed in this civilized world by a democratic country like India?, he questioned while pointing out that the Act should be scrapped immediately.

General secretary of United Committee Manipur (UCM) Oinam Hemanta said the Committee would never accept any kind of amendments of the Act.

It should be repealed forthwith.


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