Manipur: AFSPA partial rollback was welcomed but workers want complete cancellation.
Imphal: Prominent social activists of the state cautiously welcomed Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s announcement that “areas of 15 police stations in six districts of Manipur will be excluded from the Disturbed Areas notification” against AFSPA. Have been on the front lines of movements. At the same time, he expressed dissatisfaction that the “Draconian Act” had not been repealed outright.
However, Chief Minister Ann Baron Singh said the decision to reduce the number of areas where the Armed Forces Special Powers Act is enacted would usher in a “new era of peace, prosperity and development”.
On his official Facebook account, Baron Singh remarked, “In view of the sentiments of the people of Manipur, Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to reduce the troubled areas in Manipur under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). What is it? This historic decision is the result of strong development and improved security … ”
Rinku Khumukcham , editor of the Imphal Times and a social activist, welcomed the new developments, but said that “there is still a movement to repeal the inhumane AFSPA or amend it in favor of more human beings.”
He pointed out that the provisions already included in the IPC and CRPC were sufficient to deal with the insurgency in Manipur. He cited the example of Naxal-hit areas in mainland India where AFSPA has not been implemented but military and security forces are continuing operations.
“We welcome this. It’s a step in the right direction, but we will continue to push for the abolition of AFSPA,” said Human Rights Alert Director Babloo Loitongbam Baum.
He pointed out that instead of bringing it back from the areas of just 15 police stations, it would have been better to “bring AFSPA back from the entire valley area of Manipur.”
Manipur has a long history of civil protests against AFSPA and abuses by security forces, which gives troops stationed in the states some extra-judicial powers where the law is at work.
In November 2000, 10 civilians were reportedly shot dead by Assam Rifles troops at Malom Makha Lekai near Imphal Airport. The incident prompted a young Arum Sharmila to launch the longest known hunger strike against AFSPA. Although Sharmila was arrested and forcibly fed at the hospital, her protest drew media attention around the world.