TODAY -
Bodies raise repeal AFSPA pitch
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, November 14 2009: Eighteen different civil organisations based in the Northeastern States, Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi have demanded immediate repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958 from Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura as well as the Jammu and Kashmir Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1990 from Jammu and Kashmir.

A resolution was adopted in this regard after deliberating on the issues of AFSPA from November 12 to 14 at New Delhi.

The three day long meeting was attended by representatives of Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), Boro Women Justice Forum (BWJF), Borok People's Human Rights Organisation (BPHRO), Borok Women's Forum (BWF), Campaign For Peace & Democracy Manipur (CPDM), Centre for Law Development (CLD) Srinagar, Human Rights Alert (HRA), Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), Jammu & Kashmir Trade Union Centre (JKTUC), Karbi Nimso Chingthur Asong (KNCA), Manipur Students' Association Delhi (MSAD), Muslim Khawateen Markaz (MKM), Naga Women's Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR), Naga Women Union Manipur (NWUM), New Trade Union Initiatives (NTUI), Saheli Women's Group (NWG), Samindar Karbi Anime (SKA) and The Other Media (TOM).

The meeting noted that AFSPA continues to be the most important repressive tool of the Indian state that empowers even a non commissioned officer of the armed forces of the Union to kill on mere suspicion while also providing legal immunity from prosecution, thereby causing untold misery and agony among the peoples of the affected regions.

The civil organisations shared deep concern over the importance being given to AFSPA by the State in the context of the increasing militarization of the society in the sub-continent especially after 9/11 and the growing communalization of the polity in India as a whole.

They also expressed concern over the way the media is reporting incidents of violence in J&K and the North-East by and large ignoring the assault on human rights by the guardians of law and order and broadly endorsing those policies of the state that militate against democratic norms and humanitarian principles.

Noting that this Act has led to gross civil and political rights violations including enforced disappearances, extra-judicial execution, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, rape and other forms of sexual violence against women, arbitrary arrest and detention, the meeting urged upon New Delhi to refrain from inserting any part of the Acts into any other legislation granting unbridled powers to the armed forces of the union or the State police.

Further noting that the imposition of AFSPA also has severe economic, social and cultural cost including erosion of civil administration, lack of access to education, basic health care, destruction of properties and sources of livelihood, and environmental destruction, they called upon the people of India to support the ongoing campaign for the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and resist the increasing militarization of democratic spaces.

The meeting agreed that continuation of the 'disturbed area' status under the AFSPA in many parts of the country is illegal in view of the violation of the mandatory six monthly periodic directed by Supreme Court in its 1997 judgement.

They noted that the climate of impunity entrenched in these areas have led to the complete failure of the rule of law including non-registration of cases against the armed forces, and even if the few cases where investigations are completed the criminal prosecution is pending for want of sanction from the Central Govt on the application sent by the State Governments.

It reminded that the Government of India's own BP Jeevan Reddy Committee (2005), Administrative Reforms Commission headed by Veerappan Moily (2007) and Working Group on Confidence-Building Measures in Jammu and Kashmir headed by Mohammad Hamid Ansari (2007) have consistently recommended the repeal of AFSPA, The civil organisations unanimously agreed that the regions where AFSPA has been imposed, there exist suppressed democratic aspiration of people and the prolonged imposition of AFSPA has resulted in deepening the cycle of violence.

They also shared the view that repealing AFSPA would open up the necessary democratic space for addressing the root causes of the political instability, conveyed a joint statement.


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