Army not against removal of AFSPA- Defence Minister
- Defence Minister sought to dispel the misconception that the Army was against the removal of the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958.
- The partial removal of the AFSPA from Assam, Manipur and Nagaland was the result of durable peace and stability in the northeast
- The Army has a minimal role in internal security
- It wants the situation in Jammu & Kashmir to be completely normal so that AFSPA can be removed from there as well
The Armed Forces (Special) Powers Act (AFSPA) is a special privilege given to armed force personnel to handle extraordinary situations raised from insurgency and terrorism which can disturb the internal security of the country.
- The AFSPA was initially adopted as an ordinance in 1942, against the backdrop of Mahatma Gandhi's Quit India Movement.
- On the lines of this ordinance, the Indian government promulgated four ordinances in 1947 to deal with internal security issues and unrest arising due to partition in four provinces Bengal, Assam, East Bengal and the United Provinces.
- The law came into effect in 1958 to deal with the uprising in the Naga Hills, followed by the insurgency in Assam.
- The act continues till present from then
- It empowers the army, state, and federal police forces to shoot to kill, search homes, and demolish any property that is "likely" to be utilised by insurgents in regions designated by the home ministry as "disturbed."
- When there is a situation of militancy or insurgency and India's territorial integrity is jeopardised, the AFSPA is triggered.
- Security forces have the authority to "arrest a person without a warrant" who has done or is about to commit a cognizable offence based on "reasonable suspicion."
- It also grants security forces legal protection for their conduct in conflict zones.
Criticism to the Act
The act has helped tremendously in controlling insurgency in the disturbed areas of the country but the security forces have been accused of violating human rights while carrying out anti- terrorist operations in the disturbed areas.
Questionable powers of Armed forces
- Fundamental Rights: Even under a state of emergency, the right to life and liberty enshrined in Article 21 and some rights enshrined in Article 20 cannot be suspended.
- But AFSPA suspends these fundamental rights of citizens and all powers are vested in the commanders.
- The ability to shoot on sight breaches the fundamental right to life by making the soldier on the ground the judge of the worth of various lives and individuals mere objects of an officer's decision.
- Human Rights: The statute fails to safeguard and respect human rights, as evidenced by the alleged custody rape and assassination of Thangjam Manorama by Assam rifles in 2004.
- Ineffective approach: The act encourages a militaristic approach to security that has shown to be not only ineffective but also detrimental in dealing with security concerns.
Reduction in areas under AFSPA is a result of the improved security situation and fast-tracked development due to the consistent efforts and several agreements to end insurgency and bring lasting peace. The govt should acknowledge the allegations of human rights violations and take effective steps to encounter it while enforcing the act in remaining areas
- Quit India Movement
- Article 20 and 21
- Article 371 and 35A
Q. While AFSPA has been lauded for reducing incidents of extremism in Disturbed areas, there has also been accusations of Human rights violations. Critically Analyse.