Bengaluru, July 21: There has been a renewed cry being made in the aftermath of the Kashmir violence to repeal the Armed Forces Special Protection Act or AFSPA. Complaints that the AFSPA allows for the greater intervention of the Centre have been made several times.
The AFSPA gives elevated protection to the armed forces. The act came into force for the first time as the Assam and Manipur Special Powers Act in 1958. Following amendments in 1972 and 1987, it was made applicable to all North Eastern States and later in 1990 it was introduced in Jammu and Kashmir.
Today with the violence in Kashmir escalating, several people and the separatists in particular have made calls for repealing the act.
Should the act be repealed? OneIndia spoke to former Research and Analysis Wing officer, V Balachandran who says that we do need the AFSPA, but if excesses are reported then the authority should hold immediate enquiries.
Why AFSPA cannot be repealed?
There have been complaints that AFSPA allows for a greater intervention by the Centre. Balachandran however, points out the armed forces are not just worried about vexatious prosecution, but there is a moral angle to the same too.
"The armed forces are called out only as a last resort when the civil machinery, including the use of paramilitary forces, fails. This is the final punch to save our society from regional violence caused by home grown insurgents or those ignited from abroad. If the Indian Army fails, our democracy fails, and India could become a 'failed state,' giving birth to 'war-lordism," says the the former R&AW officer.
Balachandran also says that army officers are expected to conduct operations with anonymity. If there is no protection given to them and they are dragged to court their anonymity will be compromised. "This is bound to risk their morale in risky operations. Remember, morale is the bedrock of the armed forces," he further adds.
With terrorists infiltrating the Valley and hurling grenades while standing behind stone pelters, it would not be wise to repeal this act.
Check and Balance
Balachandran says that we need AFSPA that gives an elevated protection to our armed forces. However, we also need a stipulation that when there are excesses a competent authority should make or hold immediate enquiries,' he says.
The armed forces should also not be allowed to hold any person in custody beyond a specific period.
"In addition, the current practice of an entire state being covered by AFSPA must be done away with, limiting its application to only the necessary parts of a state, as recommended by former Home Minister P. Chidambaram and the Punchhi Commission, which proposed localised emergency provisions," Balachandran adds.