More than a decade long hunger strike by the Iron Lady of Manipur, Irom Sharmila. Thousands taking on the streets of North East India and Jammu & Kashmir every year. Online petitions, letters to the President, continuous protest activities and agitation by students, appeal by noted human rights organisations. Even promises by the Prime Minister of the nation to replace AFSPA with a “more humane act”.
All seems to be in vain as amendments alone in the much debated brutal, draconian law called Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act or AFSPA seems unlikely. Abolishing the act itself seems only next to impossible, in present scenarios. This is at the same time when one observes regular claims by the Government, both central and the states of NE and J&K, that the region has improved a great deal with regards to insurgency problem and that peace is more or less prevailed.
As per sources, the Ministries of Defence and Home and the Central Government is unlikely to make any amendments or introduce a revised bill in winter session of the parliament. This is because of the differences in the proposed amendments to AFSPA, which exists internally between the ministries and persuasion of the Army. It is being claimed that Defence Ministry is strictly against certain proposed amendments of AFSPA, stating that such changes would tie down the Indian Army and leave the army almost handicapped in operating and combating insurgency in states of North East and Jammu and Kashmir.
It has been understood that the Home Ministry, especially the Minister P. Chidambaram has made quite some effort to discuss about the issue with the Indian Army leadership. However, he has not been able to address the issue and convince the Army brass yet. During the last meeting yesterday between the Army Commanders of the Armed Forces and The Home Minister, the army concerned the same issues and Chidambaram is reported to have been unsuccessful in convincing the Army brass about the proposed amendments in AFSPA.
Mentionable that the Home Minister has stated last month that the Government was considering and making honest attempts to amend the AFPSA and also trying to build consensus within the government before amendments can be brought before Parliament.
Under The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act or AFSPA prevalent in North East States of India, the Indian Armed forces are given unrestricted and unaccounted power to carry out their operations, once an area is declared disturbed. Even a non-commissioned officer is granted the right to shoot to kill or arrest anyone without a warrant based on mere suspicion. This inhuman law which dignifies the basic human rights has been long protested by the people of the region; however, as the people of the region has complained often enough, the long cries and protests have largely been ignored.