Asian rights body urges Government to repeal the AFSPA

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New Delhi, Aug 18 : On the 50th Anniversary of the enactment of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) by the parliament of India, Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) today urged the Central government of India to implement the recommendations of Justice Jeevan Reddy Commission on the Review of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 as well as the recommendations of the Administrative Reforms Committee headed by M. Veerapa Moily.

"Fifty years have passed and dozens of armed groups have spurted across North East India and Jammu and Kashmir. The AFSPA has manifestly failed to contain any insurgency; instead, it has become the symbol of oppression and repression." stated Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights.

"The AFSPA cannot address conflicts arising out of controversies such as the one relating to the Amarnath Shrine in Jammu and Kashmir but the actions of the armed forces and impunity enjoyed by them under the AFSPA can certainly alienate the people further." further added Chakma.

The AFSPA empowers the governor of a State to declare certain areas as "disturbed" against the expressed wishes of the State government. It also empowers non-commissioned officers to "fire upon or otherwise use force, even to the causing of death"; destroy "any place or hide-out used,including by absconders"; "arrest, without warrant" on mere suspicion; and "enter and search without warrant". The armed forces enjoy virtual impunity for the actions taken under the Act.

The Act was first brought as an Ordinance by the Colonial British to deal with the civilain protests during Quit India movement led by Mahatma Gandhi.

However, the AFSPA was enacted by the Government of India to deal with the insurgents and therefore failed to make distinction between combatants and civilians but empowered the armed forces to award more punishment than the judiciary, and prevailed over Indian Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code with respect to arrest, detention and search. As the AFSPA is an Act, which provides enhanced punishment without defining crimes, there are no data on the abuse of the AFSPA. However, it has become the symbol of oppression and repression.

The government of India has failed to implement recommendations of the United Nations Expert Bodies as well as the recommendations of Justice Jeevan Reddy Commission on the Review of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 and Administrative Reforms Committee pertaining to the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.

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