‘Totally repeal the draconian AFSPA’, its removal from a few districts in the northeast is a ‘partial victory’

By Sadist Qureshi*
Justice BG Kolse Patil, Chairman of the Movement Against UAPA and Other Repressive Laws (MURL) said that the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) is the primary reason for unchecked military powers for the detention, the torture, destruction, murder and execution of Indian citizens in the northeastern states.

This draconian law was passed in 1958. It was initially implemented in Assam and Manipur and after an amendment in 1972 it was also implemented in Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh.
Section 3 of AFSPA empowers both Central Government and State Governments if they wish to notify an area/area as ‘disturbed areas’. Due to such disturbance or situation prevailing in the whole state or in an area thereof, governments, both central and state, may empower the armed forces to assist the civil administration in controlling the situation.

The whole state or certain areas of it can be notified under a section 4 of the AFSPA, which gives certain special powers to the armed forces to operate in “disturbed areas”.

In December, a very unfortunate incident of human rights violation occurred in Nagaland, where 13 innocent people were killed and some were seriously injured without any significant cause.
After this incident, the Court of Inquiry initiated disciplinary proceedings against the army unit and army personnel, who are directly involved in the Oting incident and action will be taken immediately on the basis of a fair investigation. Those identified who will be the subject of the investigation will be suspended with immediate effect.
In 2017, the Supreme Court ordered an investigation into 1,528 cases of alleged extrajudicial executions between 2000 and 2012 by security forces and police in neighboring Manipur, another AFSPA state. It is a law that has great potential for abuse or misuse for large-scale human rights violations.

The law has caused enormous suffering to thousands of innocent people. The armed forces have grossly abused its provisions; civilians killed, raped, kidnapped

This law has caused enormous suffering to thousands of innocent people, as the armed forces grossly abused the provisions and killed, raped and abducted civilians and destroyed their property. Some states like Kashmir and Manipur have witnessed more violence from the armed forces using the provisions of this law.
The people of states under AFSPA and human rights groups across India have long demanded an unconditional withdrawal from AFSPA in the national interest.
The MURL and various human rights organizations campaigned continuously for the repeal of all repressive laws, especially the UAPA and AFSPA. In fact, the current decision to withdraw AFSPA in parts of the country indicates a partial victory of these efforts.
Justice Kolse Patil said that for justice and peace to prevail in our border regions, we must wage common struggles until the repeal of this repressive law occurs in its entirety.

National Coordinator, Movement Against UAPA and Other Repressive Laws (MURL)

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