AFSPA: Imputnity Must End
By Ravi Nitesh
22 October, 2013
On the issue of reviewing/repealing AFSPA (Armed forces special powers act), many come together on one side to oppose any such change, even government and opposition political group both join each other. On the other end, another stakeholder army itself comes on board to oppose any such change.
It was told a few times that maintaining AFSPA and advocating for its existence has also one reason to get funds by higher authorities for defense forces. By imposing AFSPA and announcing an area disturbed simply means more intensive expenditure for arms and ammunition for the area that in turn comes from government's funds to respective armed forces. On other hand people who demand to repeal this law for various reasons, have been considered as anti-national and against army personals. It is a propaganda of 'artificial patriotism' that is made by the stakeholders of its beneficiaries. In real grounds, it is completely untrue as the demand to repeal AFSPA is a continuous struggle against the policy and not against the persons. It is a policy matter that is being used by armed forces under the provisions of this act and the actions taken by armed forces with the use of this act are accounted for serious violations of human rights.
Impunity that AFSPA provides is well known. Under its section 4 (a), a non commissioned officer has right to shoot anybody merely on suspicion and if he think this action is necessary 'in opinion' to maintain public order. Then this officer gets 'impunity' in section 6 where 'No prosecution, suit or other legal proceeding shall be instituted , except with previous sanction of central government, against any person in respect of anything done or purported to be done in exercise of the powers conferred by this act".
in the veil of this provision, cases of human rights violations that includes killings, torture, kidnapping and even rapes, lost the severity of crime to demand and to get the justice as it would be in normal cases of murder and rapes. It is true that probably no officer got punished under IPC (indian Panel Code) or CrPC (Criminal Procedure code) for any such crime.
Lack of punishment for these crimes can be understood by an example where In Loksabha (Parliament) question no. 3930 dated 19.12.2011 that was asked to Mr. Antony by Mr. Puniya, it was told by Mr. Antony that "24 cases seeking sanction for prosecution under Armed Forces Special Powers Act have been received from Jammu and Kashmir Home Department during the last five years (from 2007 up to 15.12.2011). Of these, 5 cases are under examination. In remaining 19 cases, the requests for prosecution sanction were rejected as it was found on examination that no prima facie case was made out against the accused army personnel."
Till now , we are really unaware about any such sanction that even on those 5 cases (that was told in above mentioned parliamentary question) that were in process that time, had given. So we can say that in spite of large number of human rights abuses by security forces in AFSPA affected region, only few cases sent by state government for sanction to register the criminal case against them but central government denied.
Is it not ironical that how central government is behaving in a judgmental way and with the attitude of super decision maker over the cases that was forwarded to it for grant of permission to lodge a case? So by this way, central government is sure that request of state government seeking the permission was illogical and was not based on facts? Is it something like state government was trying to implicate an army personal in a false claim or the state government tried to get sanction to register a case against a personal of central security force who probably did not commit the crime? is it not misinterpreting and invalidating the roles and powers of state while dealing against human rights abuses committed over its own people by a person deployed by central government in its own territory that is very much belong to its own citizens?
Now in another case, where with the recent case in Supreme Court regarding fake killings in Manipur and accordingly Supreme Court formed a judicial committee to investigate six cases, and where the committee in its findings reported to supreme court that in 6 investigated cases, it was found that all comes under fake enounters. The case is still continue in supreme court where state government of Manipur and Central government are filing their reply .
By these examples, it is very much clear that not only human rights activists and people's desire, but even states are very much sidelined for this very 'security' reasons. In contrast security forces gained audacity to act in irresponsible way as they will not be asked any question and will not get any punishment for their acts (crimes) as they are getting impunity. It is unpredictable that if state(s) are indulged in defending such wrong practices of government or not, but it is very much in the interest of state(s) to take action rather than sitting with silence and handcuffed with written sets of AFSPA sections. Empowering the states are very much necessary for effective law and order and central government must start doing this by starting its action towards people, through making people’s friendly laws and through repealing the act that is very much disputed and alleged for violations of rights . For any successful government, faith upon people are always more necessary than blind faith upon its own state machinery such as armed forces.
Ravi Nitesh is a Petroleum Engineer, Founder- Mission Bhartiyam, Core Member- Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign
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