India – AFSPA Abolition and State Demilitarization

March 18, 2012

By Padmini Arhant

North Eastern India – Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Assam remain the disenfranchised union of India – the world’s largest (democracy?).

State affairs grossly neglected by elected officials at the local and national level, the frustrated population continuously endures economic, political and above all security problems in the region.

The security threat emanates from none other than AFPSA Armed Forces Special Powers Act implemented in 1958 is inherited from colonial times known as Armed Forces Special Ordinance introduced in 1942.

Since then AFSPA has been abused clarifying proverbial impact of power.

Power corrupts human mind.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

AFSPA Carte blanche status is the root cause of unrest and disorder in the deployed states creating insurgency amongst economically and politically deprived youth rising against armed personnel atrocity never brought to justice in the so-called democracy.

Any society complacent to injustice anywhere is complicit in crimes against humanity,

The political and military tribunal apathy emboldens rank and file with lawlessness becoming law for the legion in civilian environment.

While there are disciplined military regiments admirably defending the nation at every frontier,

The other end of the spectrum involved in dehumanizing activities represents leaderships failure in politics and military hierarchy considering the lack of initiatives to address grievous situation.

Manipur in particular has been the fertile ground for Assam rifles cadre and central forces brutality producing militancy and economic blockade in protest to terror in uniform patrolling the territories with ammunitions and impunity against human rights violation and military code of conduct.

The citizens overwhelming accounts confirm troops primitive behavior leaving a lasting impression those wild characteristics not amenable to civil engagement.

Furthermore, the upheavals delineate combat and Peace Corps approach to political crisis.

Not to mention the State and Central government especially Home Ministry nonchalant demeanor fuels activism in the region.

The incident involving Assam rifles (AR) indiscriminate shooting of 10 villagers – a pregnant woman among them waiting at the bus stop in Malom village near the state capital Imphal airport was the tip of the iceberg in the burgeoning criminality from soldiers gone wry.

Unpunished crime precedential in impropriety evolving into notoriety prevalent from top down is the fundamental flaw in the oversight set up for formality than functionality.

Notwithstanding corruption usurping justice institutionalize power abuse throughout the system with victims and families unable to hold perpetrators accountable for heinous assault on the weak and vulnerable.

Historically revolts are triggered by social and economic inequalities combined with lack of political representation demanding reforms to end disparity.

In Manipur and other North Eastern States, demilitarization is the core issue seeking redress and termination to violence.

The activist Irom Sharmila Chanu has been on indefinite fast for over a decade and surviving on nasal feeding symbolic of pain and suffering experienced by the people in Manipur and elsewhere like Jammu and Kashmir valley with AFSPA presence exacerbating local residents misery.

Militarization has notably brought immense adversities and the policy is denounced for direct intrusion in civil society contributing to continuous discord with state and central government inefficiency in resolving disputes peacefully rather than by use of force.

The precipitous decline in administrative skills predominantly relying on authoritarianism through catalysts like AFSPA is indicative of subjugation at political will.

India following undemocratic strategies analogous to western allies unpopular means to rein control is anathema to national freedom with regional autonomy severely undermined under existential AFSPA aggression.

Although Irom Sharmila’s voice on Manipur citizens behalf is heard ceremonially with coveted awards and cash prize,

The ailing dissenter’s plea is ignored entirely on AFSPA withdrawal from the state and revoking special powers act – arguably the deadly weapon in the hands of unruly contingency substituted for current leaderships response to manufactured conflicts in the beleaguered states up North and North Eastern India.

Ironically, Irom Sharmila was arrested again last week and charged with suicidal attempt by inept state and central government (Congress Party) targeting the peace activist reiterating political decision on AFSPA.

Humanitarian organizations and prestigious institutes in India along with 1.2 billion unified stance to abolish imperialist doctrine – AFSPA and demilitarization would transform dormant democracy into vibrant republic rule with civil liberty for all.

India in pursuit of economic prosperity has forsaken democratic values and vast majority pre-occupation in self-promotion has allowed military and political establishment to claim supremacy threatening sovereignty and statehood denied in ad nauseam mistreatment of indigenous as well as marginalized demography.

International human rights groups and United Nations intense pressure on New Delhi to abrogate AFSPA would exemplify universal application of law.

Additionally freezing individual State and New Delhi leaderships assets in overseas accounts conforming to measures against governments adopting military intervention endangering lives and citizens safety would be effective in restoring normal existence.

Indian electorate demonstrated resolve subsequent to emergency rule in 1975 by Congress government under Late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi rejecting autocratic governance sending a strong message through ballots and,

Likewise repeating the process with earlier Lok Sabha elections would perhaps provide an opportunity for a breath of fresh air in corruption contaminated politics.

Meanwhile citizens in Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Assam, Jammu and Kashmir could consolidate efforts adhering to non-violent and peaceful methods in removing AFSPA with amendment to state constitution and statutory requirement to prosecute armed forces’ unlawful detention, persecution, torture and killing of innocent civilians in the state.

State legislature enactment subjecting unnecessary delay or reluctance in adjudication liable is also essential to eliminate dereliction of duty besides preventing political and military misuse of power.

Indian solidarity triumphed in 1947 and similar milestone could be reached in delivering peace, stability and economic progress to states confined to unconstitutional military occupation under false pretext of national security.

Economic development inversed with political regression is counterproductive diminishing the value in the absence of pervasive growth.

India needs to wake up from deep slumber.

Reviving democracy sworn allegiance to republic instead of foreign empowerment is vital for national sovereignty.

Wishing citizens in Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Assam, Jammu and Kashmir and across India success in endeavors benefitting humanity at large.

Peace to all!

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant









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