Needed: repeal of AFSPA, not regret

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News: The death of innocent civilians by security officers in Nagaland caused outrage of repealing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

Read here: Explained: AFSPA and the Northeast
Incidents where security personals get punished under the AFSPA

There is one incident where security personal were involved in the killing of innocent 5 young men just on the suspicion that they were involved in the killing of the general manager of the Assam Frontier Tea Limited.

Following this, the Gauhati High Court ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry, which indicted the Army personnel of murder of the five youths. Then, the army had to court-martial its 7 security personals and sentence them to life imprisonment.

Why the demand for repeal is justified?

Kaka Iralu in his book Nagaland and India: The Blood and the Tears, documents the extra-judicial killings and the suffering of the common people under the Draconian provisions of the AFSPA. Since the first invoking of AFSPA in the Naga Hills district of Assam, there have been several instances where innocents get killed like:

1995: 9 innocent civilians were killed by Central Reserve Police Force personnel in front of the RIMS hospital in Imphal.

2000: 10 civilians were gunned down by the 8th Assam Rifles at Malom Leikai following a blast at Imphal’s Tulihal Airport. This incident prompted Irom Sharmila to begin her hunger strike.

2004: Group of women launched a nude protest in front of the Assam Rifles Headquarters after Thangjam Manorama was allegedly tortured and killed by security personnel. This incident forced the then PM Manmohan Singh to think about the AFSPA provision and change it into a “more humane law”.

What are the committees and Supreme Court judgments? 

SC laid down guidelines for the use of AFSPA. It held that “there is no concept of absolute immunity from trial by a criminal court.”

Read moreRespect the recommendation of various committees on AFSPA

What should be the way forward?

Read here: Nagaland killings aren’t a mere ‘blunder’

Source: This post is based on the article “Needed: repeal of AFSPA, not regret” published in The Hindu on 15th December 2021.

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