Cong AFSPA amendment promise attempt to demoralise armed forces, says Nirmala Sitharaman
New Delhi, Apr 03: Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in a press conference, attacked the Congress over its manifesto alleging that the party wants to dilute the AFSPA and want to remove the immunity that the law gives to our forces because they are siding separatists.
" On one hand Congress says that they will declare the Pulwama victims as martyrs but on the other they want to dilute the powers of AFSPA," she says. "The Congress is siding terrorists," she adds.
The Congress, which released its election manifesto on Tuesday, promised to amend the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act or the AFSPA, that grants special powers to the Indian armed forces in 'insurgency-hit areas', if the party came to power after the ensuing Lok Sabha elections.
The Congress said that the AFSPA Act and Disturbed Areas Act in Jammu and Kashmir will be reviewed if the party came to power after the polls.
Apart from J&K, the AFSPA Act is applicable in Nagaland and Manipur and some parts of north-eastern states.
According to The Disturbed Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1976, once declared 'disturbed', an area has to maintain the status quo for a minimum of three months.
Under AFSPA, the armed forces are given powers to arrest, use force and even open fire on anyone who violate the law. But over the years, civilians have levelled allegations of army excesses in the insurgency-hit areas.
Human right groups have been demanding the scrapping of the AFSPA act, claiming the law gives "sweeping powers" to the soldiers to act against civilians. Activists have also alleged extra-judicial killings in those areas where AFSPA is in force.
Notably, renowned Manipuri activist Irom Sharmila launched an indefinite fast for 16 years (2000-2016) in protest against the controversial act.
(with agency inputs)