TODAY -

Editorial of the week

Internationalising AFSPA
Courtesy: The Sangai Express 15th September, 2007



New Delhi can no longer afford to look the other way, when it comes to the demand raised by a large number of social organisations and human rights bodies to repeal the contentious Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

This can be easily inferred from the fact that protest against the Act has started simultaneously in Manipur (India), US, UK, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other Arab Nations.

The sit-in-demonstration is for five days, but what is significant is not the number of days but the coming together of different organisations from across the country and elsewhere and this is something which cannot be brushed aside that easily.

The point is, whether Delhi likes it or not, people's articulation against the Act has been able to touch the heart of many, irrespective of Nationalities to come together and voice their stand against the continued imposition of the said Act.

Credit for the growing concern and awareness should certainly go to Irom Sharmila Chanu, who has been waging a lone battle since 2000 after ten persons were gunned down in indiscriminate firing at Malom.

The young lady in question has no strings attached to her demand. She is not seeking international recognition nor is she trying to extract any political mileage by her protest and this is what makes her stand note worthy.

Her protest has come straight from the heart. Another incident, that drew the attention of the international community to the Act was the custodial death of Th Manorama, who was found shot dead after being picked up by Assam Rifles personnel in 2004.

The months of street protest, best exemplified by the nude protest in front of the Assam Rifles gate at Kangla, are stuff that revolutions are made of.

The announcement of the Prime Minister when he visited Manipur in the winter of 2004 could not have been only to quell the angst of the people, but must have come from the need to study whether the Act has done more harm than good or not.

However the tragedy is, the recommendations of the Justice Jeevan Reddy Commission has been put in the cold storage and no one knows when or whether it will at all be discussed by the Union Cabinet or Parliament.

Charges of human rights abuses against the security personnel in the North East and Manipur are plenty and there have been cases, when some of the erring personnel have been pulled and penalised, as in the case of the rape of house wife Ahanjaobi in the early 90s.

The issue at hand should be clear to all, especially, Delhi. Has the Armed Forces Special Powers Act been able to deliver the goods and contain the armed movement or has it ended up only in alienating the people from the mainstream?

We understand that the security personnel here work under trying circumstances, but despite all these, there is no way in which a disciplined force should be given the license to kill without any accountability.

This in essence is the people's stand against AFSPA.



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