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After Nagaland Fiasco, Demands For ‘Controversial’ AFSPA’s Revocation Grow Louder in Kashmir
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After Nagaland Fiasco, Demands For ‘Controversial’ AFSPA’s Revocation Grow Louder in Kashmir

“During the peak of 2010 agitation, the late Hurriyat patriarch Syed Ali Geelani had agreed for a dialogue with India on certain conditions including demilitarisation and revocation of the draconian laws like AFSPA.”

SRINAGAR — The killings of Nagaland villagers in an Army ambush gone horribly wrong has brought the controversial Armed Forces (Special) Powers Act of 1958 back into the spotlight.

Following the killings, protests erupted in the Northeastern state demanding punishment to the “killers” and revocation of the controversial Act.

Although the Centre has directed a special investigative team to investigate the civilian killings and submit the report within a month, the chief ministers of Nagaland and Meghalaya, both BJP allies, are calling for the Act to be repealed. “The Army is given rights under AFSPA to arrest civilians without a warrant, raid homes, and even kill people. However, there is no action against the security forces,” Neiphiu Rio, chief minister of Nagaland, said.

For decades the civil society groups, human rights activists, political leaders, global human rights defenders, and organisations have been reiterating the revocation of AFSPA from Northeastern states of India, and Jammu and Kashmir. However, the Nagaland killings have added impetus to the demand.

Jammu and Kashmir tops the list of human rights violations committed under the AFSPA, with 92 complaints against the Indian Army and paramilitary forces till 2016.

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In 2017, the Ministry of Home Affairs revealed that out of a total of 186 complaints of human rights violations received against the armed forces deployed in the seven states where AFSPA was imposed, during a period of three years, from 2012 to January 2016, J&K accounted for 49.5% of the complaints.

In 2013, the then Jammu and Kashmir chief minister, Omar Abdullah, said Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) should be repealed from the places in Jammu and Kashmir where the Army is not required.

“The areas where we don’t need Army, AFSPA can be revoked from those places. I believe that we are right on this issue and we will continue to support our demand,” Omar had said while addressing the Legislative Council in Srinagar.

In November 2011, Omar had said that his government has the authority to revoke the controversial law and sought a ‘workable’ solution from the Army. However, it never happened.

Although another former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president, Mehbooba Mufti, also on Tuesday said the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) should be removed in areas in the Northeast, where militancy-related violence has reduced, and also from J&K. However, in February 2018, she ruled out revoking the controversial Act in Kashmir and had asserted that the Indian Army is the “most disciplined” force in the world.  

Kashmir’s top political analyst and legal expert Professor Sheikh Showkat Hussain said that the revocation of AFSPA has been a long-pending demand in Kashmir too. “Even during the peak of 2010 agitation, the late Hurriyat patriarch Syed Ali Geelani had agreed for a dialogue with India on certain conditions of ‘recognising Kashmir issue as disputed, releasing prisoners, demilitarisation and revoking the draconian laws including AFSPA’.”

Professor Hussain said that when the politicians of Kashmir were in power, they did not do anything to revoke it, rather they defended this law, and now when they are out of power, they are protesting against it and demanding its revocation.

He said that the abuse of power granted by AFSPA has mostly happened in Kashmir. “Security forces take advantage of this power and have no fear of getting convicted.”

Passed by the Parliament on September 11, 1958, the AFSPA was once used by the British to curb movements of freedom struggle. It enables members of the armed forces to exercise ‘certain special powers’ in ‘disturbed areas’.

AFSPA has been in force since 1958 in areas of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura and later in Jammu and Kashmir from 1990.



The law gives power to armed forces to shoot, kill, arrest on an insubstantial pretext, conduct warrantless searches, demolish structures in disturbed areas and the law also gives immunity to the armed forces against prosecution among various other protections.

According to Human Rights Watch, these special powers have resulted in cases of abuse, rape, torture, and forced disappearances involving the armed forces as there is no fear of being held accountable.

“The Act violates the provisions of international human rights law, including the right to life, the right to be protected from arbitrary arrest and detention, and the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. The Act denies the victims of the abuses the right to a remedy,” HRW states.

Ajay Sahni, Executive Director of Institute of Conflict Management, said that the hue and cry that the political leaders are making now is merely for political gains. “This is not the first time that people are demanding the revocation of AFSPA, whenever any such incidents, referring to Nagaland civilian killings, happen people, especially political parties, raise the AFSPA issue. But they always do it for their own political benefit,” Sahni said. 

He said that an environment of lawlessness has been in the air for years now and there have always been cover-ups rather than investigations into such incidents. “The APSFA has been upheld consistently by the Supreme Court. 

It is the conspiracy of people in power who turn the question of human rights into a political question and the problem is in higher spaces who are not investigating the cases,” Sahni added. 

Chairman of the International Forum for Justice and Human Rights, Muhammad Ahsan Untoo said that the rights activists have been demanding the revocation of AFSPA for the last 30 years. But authorities have turned a blind eye to these demands. “AFSPA is simply the government’s sponsored terrorism,” he said, demanding that such a draconian law must be revoked immediately and all the perpetrators be convicted.  

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