Friday, November 21, 2014

Pressing need to repeal AFSPA

Two events in the past month have summarized the pressing need to repeal AFSPA and finally do away with a British-era law, written to clamp down on the Quit India Movement and Mahatma Gandhi in particular, and refurbished by the Nehru administration to clamp down on insurgency in the Naga areas. The Act has given blanket legal protection to security forces in so-called disturbed areas but has also become an excuse for failing to arrive at a political solution to festering problems created since the formation of the Republic.

The killing of two Kashmiri youth for failing to stop at a checkpoint highlights just how wrong AFSPA has gone. In any counter-insurgency operation, lethal force is to be used only as a final resort. However, because of AFSPA, it can and has been used as the first resort. There were many things that could have been done in this situation, including shooting the tires of the vehicle. It is understandable that there is a fear of a suicide bomb explosion, but by the very nature of counter-insurgency, using the 'enemy's' tactics on the 'enemy' is not going to work. The ultimate aim is to protect the Kashmiri people and look for a political solution, not to shoot them into submission.

The second incident is even more henious and shows that AFSPA has not just been misused but has been entirely abused. The leaked report of Th. Manorama's torture, rape and murder at the hands of men from the Assam Rifles, later buried by the unit as an encounter, is devastating to the conscience of our Republic and an insult to everything that the freedom struggle and the Constitution stand for. In a civil court, the soldiers involved would've been sentenced to death, for their brutal act was so shocking. Instead, the Army gave them the equivalent of a light rap on the wrist. It is no surprise then that the insurgency in Manipur remains. As this blog has asked repeatedly, if this is the value of human life that we Indians place, why would the Manipuris want to remain in India?

Much rhetoric has been made and too many lives have been lost. AFSPA must be repealed immediately and a political solution has to be found on a war footing. The country is not worth keeping if a part of its people have to live in fear of their own Army. 

No comments: