Bipin Rawat take on AFSPA Only in NE and JK

No doubt the Chief of Army Staff will always have a big say when it comes to the question of whether to continue with the Armed Forces Special Powers Act or dilute its provisions or withdraw it from the places where it is enforced. This may be what happened to the recommendations of the Justice Jeevan Reddy Commission, which was constitued to study the said Act amid the demand to revoke the Army Act from Manipur, after the bullet riddled body of Th Manorama was discovered in the summer of 2004, after she was picked up by Assam Rifles personnel the previous evening. The Justice Jeevan Reddy Commission was formed after the then Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh personally flew down to Imphal to assuage the hurt sentiments of the people and assured to form a panel and have a relook at the Army Act, which many have come to dub as draconian. That the Prime Minister of the country deemed it fit to constitute a panel and re-study the provisions of the said Act says something very significant and if the grapevine is to be believed, the recommendation of the Commission was given the quiet burial after the top honchos of the military put their foot down and objected to any review of the said Act. More than 10 years down the line and today, Army chief, General Bipin Rawat has gone on record to state that the ‘time has not come for any rethink on AFSPA.’ So one may safely assume that the Army Act will continue to be imposed in the North Eastern part of the country as well as Jammu and Kashmir. While justifying the continued imposition of the Army Act, General Bipin Rawat took pains to claim that the Army has been taking adequate precautions in protecting human rights.
This is where it becomes important to remind the Army chief that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act was revoked from the areas that come under the Imphal Municipal Corporation after the huge public uproar in 2004 and the nude protest at Kangla which then housed the Assam Rifles. Why was the Army act revoked from the Municipality segment of Imphal is a question that the army top brass ought to ponder over. Moreover it would do good for all to remember that the Supreme Court has taken serious note of the alleged extra-judicial killings case filed by EEVFAM and HRA. Irom Chanu Sharmila may have given up her fast, but why did she launch her marathonesque fast in the first place, is a question the Army should not forget to ask itself. If the license to open fire even to the extent of causing death on suspicion is not draconian then what is ? The Army and the NSCN (IM) may not be firing at each other now, but who can forget Operation Blue Bird back in the late 80s of the last century at Oinam in Senapati district ? The Army Act is bad enough, but what has added more to the bad quotient is the stand of the Army, which seeks to justify its continuance and it is a shame that India which won her freedom from the British is continuing with an Act that was framed to subdue the movement launched by the people against the alien rule. Moreover remember too that AFSPA appears to be discriminatory, for it is imposed only in the North East and Jammu and Kashmir and not in other parts of the country.

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