Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958, Kashmir, NE and AFSPA

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  • Starting June 2010, there were a series of protests in Kashmir over the killing of a youth. Clash between CRPF and mob further escalated the violence and many people have been killed since then. People have defied the curfew and protests have become a major law and order problem.
  • By August 2010,69 civilians were killed in such protests
  • There has been a demand, hence, for the withdrawal of the controversial AFSPA from Kashmir.

Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958

  • It conferred special powers upon the armed forces in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura and Nagaland.
  • Extended to J&K in 1990
  • Provisions. In the ‘disturbed’ area;
    • AF can use force, even to the causing of death, against any person acting in the contravention of the law, against any assembly of five or more persons, or possession of deadly weapons
    • Arrest without warrant only on the basis of suspicion
    • Enter any premises and conduct search
  • Gives the armed forces immunity for their actions. Proceedings against personnels under this act can be made only after the permission of the central government.
  • Central and state governments have the power to declare an area as disturbed. Their decision cannot be challenged in the court of law.
  • Th. Manorama was arrested in Manipur under AFSPA. She was later raped and killed. Irom Sharmila has been fasting for last 10 years for the repeal of AFSPA from Manipur.
  • Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee had recommended the repeal of AFSPA from the North-East
  • Central govt has a stand that it will withdraw AFSPA from Kashmir when the state govt withdraws the Disturbed Areas Act

Table 1

Argument, Counterargument
Army contends that the situation across LOC need a robust military presenceMr Abdullah proposes only to lift AFSPA from two areas where the Army in any case has no security responsibilities
Without the AFSPA, the Army will not be able to stage counter terrorism operations in an emergencyAFSPA did not have to be imposed to allow the Army to assist in the defence of Parliament House when it came under attack in 2001 – and that Army staged many successful counter-terrorism operations in Jammu province before AFSPA was imposed there in 2001
Some argue that AFSPA free enclaves will be magnets for terroristsThis too makes little sense, since the Army is not present in the enclaves anyway – and it is improbable that terrorists have not established themselves there for fear of a mere law

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