Imphal, Aug 18: Marking the 55 years of imposing Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA), 1958, Just Peace Foundation in collaboration with Civil Society Coalition for Human Rights in Manipur and The UN released a book entitled, ‘Manipur: Memorandum on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions’ at Imphal Hotel’s Banquet Hall here on Saturday.
At the function, human rights activists and members of civil society organizations unanimously adopted two resolutions. Firstly, ‘to request all the Members of the Parliament from the regions and States affected by AFSPA to unitedly make every effort with urgency in order to ensure that this Act is repealed,’ and secondly, ‘to request civil society organizations and movements in the AFSPA affected regions and States and the rest of the India to increase efforts to urge the government of India to repeal the Act during the present session of Parliament.’
Dr T Meinya Singh, Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha), who attended the function as Chief Guest, said that armed forces are specially trained to fight enemy, however, sending them among the civilians under the guise of controlling insurgency is not right. Referring to the assurance of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to amend AFSPA and make it more humane, Dr Meinya said that the Prime Minister and his Cabinet is very much concern about the draconian aspect of the Act. Commission reports of former Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily and Vice President Hamid Ansari too have recommended repealing of AFSPA. However, in a democratic set up, revocation or make changes to a law is a long process and it takes time.
Further, Dr Meinya observed that in order to expedite the process of revoking AFSPA, every citizen has to empower themselves first and all the people affected by the Act should come up with a single voice to repeal it. Delivering the key note address, human rights activist Babloo Loitongbam recalled that when AFSPA was introduced as a Bill for the first time in Lok Sabha on 18th August, 1958, the then Home Minister G B Pant justified the Bill stating, “state government can use the army only for limited purpose,”. But today it has been transformed into “unlimited purpose” as the Army aggressively embarks on their mission to win the heart and mind of the people in the disturbed areas.In Manipur we are witnessing that the military has transgressed its usual leveling of football grounds or organizing medical camps and now entered almost every academic seminars and even in Lai Haraoba festivals through its military civic action programs.
Appealing to the Prime Minister and his Cabinet colleagues to pause for a moment and have a serious introspection on the issue, Babloo said that repealing AFSPA will put India in a good stead as a credible democracy amongst the comity of nations and it will also help to recover some of the lost faith and confidence of the North East people and Kashmir to the democratic processes of the country.
Participating in the panel discussion, Senior Advocate, Khaidem Mani said that due to the presence of AFSPA, Indian democracy is turning towards a “Colonial Democracy.” It also indirectly helps to upsurge insurgency movement in the AFSPA affected states.
If the Indian government wants to continue its colonial democracy, then AFSPA can be continued, and if the government wants the active participation of Manipur and other North East people, then the black law should be repealed immediately, he added. Another panelist and President of Senior Citizen for Society, Ningthoujam Binoy questioned the interest of the three MPs from the state with regard to the current movement for removing AFSPA.
During the panel discussion, retired Session Court Judge, C Upendra also said that in order to repeal the Act, all the civil society organizations and human rights activist in the AFSPA affected regions should come together as one. Retired Colonel T Hemo Singh; Convenor of Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights in Manipur and The UN Dr Debabrata Roy; Advisor IPSA H Ibotombi; Lokendra Arambam; Managing Trustee of Just Peace Foundation Kh Anandi were among others who also participated in the panel discussion.