Students and civil rights groups Saturday protested in the national capital to demand the repeal of a law that grants the military special powers, including legal immunity, during operations in country’s troubled areas.
A day after Home Minister P. Chidambaram said that changes proposed by his ministry in the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act could be implemented after consultations with all concerned, the activists said there should be no sucj law.
‘The people from Jammu and Kashmir, Nagaland, Mizoram and other states where AFSPA is there, don’t want changes in the law, but we are clearly asking for the repeal of AFSPA,’ said Sucheta De, secretary of students’ body All India Students Association (AISA).
The protestors also cited various instances of human rights violations in the name of the special powers given to armed forces.
G.N. Saibaba, an assistant professor at Delhi University and vice president of the Revolutionary Democratic Front of India, branded armed forces in a few states with AFSPA as ‘killers’ and said they should not be given charge in sensitive areas of the country.
According to Nandini Sundar of Delhi School of Economics, ‘The government claims that areas like Jammu and Kashmir, Nagaland, Mizoram and Jharkhand are peaceful because of the army. The truth is that years of oppression have silenced the voice of democracy.’
The act is in force in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Jammu and Kashmir.