Support Sharmila, repeal the AFSPA

Irom Sharmila has been on a protest fast for the past six years; since 2nd November 2000, when security forces killed innocent villagers in Malom, Manipur. About three weeks later, she was arrested and charged with attempted suicide: the authorities in Manipur have since been force-feeding her through a nasal tube. Sharmila was released on October 3rd from judicial custody, and on Friday, October 4th (last Friday), she was smuggled out of Imphal, and began her protest at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi.

On Friday night, she was moved to AIIMS by the police. This morning, The Hindu carried a report by Siddharth Varadarajan, that the Justice Jeevan Reddy Commission, tasked with reviewing the provisions of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), feels that it should be repealed. The report quotes the Commission as saying:

The Act is too sketchy, too bald and quite inadequate in several particulars.[…]the Act, for whatever reason, has become a symbol of oppression, an object of hate and an instrument of discrimination and high-handedness.[…]It is highly desirable and advisable to repeal the Act altogether, without, of course, losing sight of the overwhelming desire of an overwhelming majority of the [North-East] region that the Army should remain (though the Act should go).

* Announcement: There is to be a peaceful protest in Bangalore, in solidarity with Sharmila, urging the state to repeal the AFSPA. 2nd of November, 2006, at 5pm, at the Gandhi statue, MG Road.

4 thoughts on “Support Sharmila, repeal the AFSPA”

  1. Even if the act is repealed, what will change ?
    The festering insurgencies in the North East are not dying down anytime soon. Some of them, such as ULFA are not so easily resolvable unless a Mizoram or Gorkhaland type settlement is made.
    Actions that are objected to under the current Act are available under other laws and will be implemented even if the Act is repealed.

  2. Ashish, repealing the Act will, at the very least, do this: it will force a long over-due debate on the North East (looking at separate States, their individually complex histories and state accountability), it might force the rest of India to acknowledge this diversity and complexity,or even to acknowledge the North East in the first place (rather than the ‘Chinky’ one-phirang-fits-all stereotype most of us tend to use), and finally, the AFSPA has become such a symbol of oppression that repealing it will have an emotional impact in the North East far beyond the pragmatics.

    Fingers – and all else – crossed. It’s been over four months since the Jeevan Reddy Commission submitted its report, and the government still refuses to make it public. All hail accountability.

  3. The way I understand it is like this.

    The respective state governments have the power to notify various areas as “disturbed”. When they are so notiied, the ASFCA comes into effect. The state governments can also remove the above notifications like it has done in parts of Manipur in 2004. The power is with the state governments to remove the army entirely.

    The ASPCA was not intended to be used for 20+ years at a time and hence the provisions of the act are so draconion. The correct thing to do would be to remove the “disturbed” notification and let the army go back to guarding the borders.

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