Repeal AFSPA – voices Durgapur

Durgapur the industrial hub of Bengal and the fastest growing city of the state has a cosmopolitan culture. In a true sense Durgapur is a miniature India where you will find people from across the country living in great harmony. In the Steel Township, which is the largest township of the city one will hardly find a street where there are no families from other parts of India. The picture is same in City Centre as well.
Conglomeration of a number of industries and educational centers in Durgapur is the main reason behind this cosmopolitan culture. In recent years a number of educational institutes have came up in the field of engineering, hotel management and other management streams. A large number of students from the north-eastern states are presently in Durgapur for a better career. People of these north-eastern states are my talking point for today. This is an effort to show our solidarity against a draconian law prevalent in some of the north-eastern states.

Protest march in support of repealing AFSPA

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), effective in the north-eastern states and Jammu & Kashmir demands a relook considering morality and human rights. Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) passed on September 11, 1958; by the Parliament of India is one of the more draconian legislations that the Indian Parliament has passed in its 45 years of Parliamentary history. Under this Act, all security forces, both commissioned and non-commissioned, are given unrestricted and unaccounted power to carry out operations like shoot, arrest and search based on mere suspicion in order to “maintain the public order”.
AFSPA was first applied to the North Eastern states of Assam and Manipur and was amended in 1972 to extend to all the seven states in the north- eastern region of India. They are Assam, Manipur, Tripura, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland, also known as the “seven sisters”. It was later extended to Jammu and Kashmir as The Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 in July 1990. The enforcement of the AFSPA has resulted in innumerable incidents of arbitrary detention, torture, rape, and looting by security personnel.
The Act has invited national and international condemnation as it violates the basic human rights standards. In 1991, the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) questioned India on the validity of the AFSPA. Besides questioning the constitutionality of the AFSPA under Indian law, the committee members asked how it could be justified in light of Article 4 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
In 2004, in the wake of intense agitation launched by several civil society groups following the death of Thangjam Manorama, while in the custody of the Assam Rifles and the indefinite fast undertaken by Irom Sharmila, the then Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil visited Manipur and reviewed the situation with the concerned state authorities. Growing international pressure forced Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh assured activists that the central government would consider their demand sympathetically and promised that the Act would be amended to ensure it was ‘humane’.
Accordingly, the central government set up a five-member committee under the Chairmanship of Justice B P Jeevan Reddy, former judge of the Supreme Court. The panel was given the mandate of “reviewing the provisions of AFSPA and advising the Government of India whether (a) to amend the provisions of the Act to bring them in consonance with the obligations of the government towards protection of human rights; or (b) to replace the Act by a more humane Act.”
The Reddy committee submitted its recommendations on June 6, 2005. The 147-page report recommends, “The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, should be repealed.” The report states that “the Act, for whatever reason, has become a symbol of oppression, an object of hate and an instrument of discrimination and high handedness.” The report clearly stated that “It is highly desirable and advisable to repeal the Act altogether, without of course, losing sight of the overwhelming desire of an overwhelming majority of the North East region that the Army should remain though the Act should go.
However, the government failed to take any concrete action on the recommendations even after six years. The then Defence Minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee had rejected the withdrawal or significant dilution of the Act on the grounds that “it is not possible for the armed forces to function” in “disturbed areas” without such powers.
The second UN protest against AFSPA came in 2009 when UN Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay in 2009 asked India to repeal AFSPA, citing that the Act breached “contemporary international human rights standards”. An international non-governmental organization, Human Rights Watch criticized AFSPA as a “tool of state abuse, oppression and discrimination”, while the South Asian Human Rights Documentation Centre contended that the use of increased forces in troubled areas escalated the tension.
A recent joint initiative of various organizations and movements, Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign, is launching a two-month nationwide signature campaign from today (oct 2) to create awareness and generate public support for Sharmila and her fight against AFSPA. Recent statement by Anna Hazare and India Against Corruption showing support for Sharmila Chanu and her cause is certainly a ray of hope for the people of north-eastern states.
Sharmila chanu in fast and forcibly fed through nose

The campaign will culminate with the handing over of the signatures to the president of India on International Human Rights Day on December 10, 2011 followed by a fast and peace march from India gate to Rastrapati Bhawan in New Delhi. The signature campaign will travel to major Indian cities of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhatisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Delhi and Puducheery.
The indomitable Irom Sharmila Chanu began her fast-unto-death stir following the “Malom massacre” in which personnel of Assam Rifles gunned down 10 civilians at Malom near Tulihar Airport in Imphal on November 2, 2000. She clocked ten years of continuous fasting, demanding the repeal of the draconian AFSPA, late last year and has been kept in a high security ward in Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences (JNIMS) in Imphal where she has been nasal fed since. Now is our time to show solidarity for the fight of Irom Sharmila Chanu and her cause of repealing AFPSA.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.