Bring bill to amend AFSPA: PC

Chidambaram, while he was a minister in the UPA II govt had been of the view that AFSPA should be made a more humanitarian law

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Published:November 15, 2014 2:43 am
Former Union minister P Chidambaram (Source: PTI) Chidambaram said that as Home Minister in 2010, he “initiated the process of repealing, or at least amending AFSPA”, but found stiff resistance from the Armed forces and the Defence Ministry.

A day after a court martial recommended life sentences for five Army men in the Machil fake encounter case, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram Thursday asked the BJP government to bring a Bill to amend the contentious Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in the Winter session of Parliament. He said the AFSPA was an “obnoxious law” which allows the men in uniform to “act with impunity”.

Chidambaram said that as Home Minister in 2010, he “initiated the process of repealing, or at least amending AFSPA”, but found stiff resistance from the Armed forces and the Defence Ministry. “It remains an unfinished business,” he said. He welcomed the decision of the court martial recommending life sentence to the Army personnel found guilty of killing three Kashmiris in Machil in 2010.

Chidambaram, while he was a minister in the UPA II government, had been of the view that AFSPA should be made a more “humanitarian” law. He had often rued the fact that there was no consensus on the issue and the Home Ministry, Defence Ministry and Armed forces were not on the same page.

Speaking of Machil incident, he said, “I am afraid it will not be the last case of an alleged encounter involving personnel of the Army or the Central Armed Police Forces unless we address the underlying cause.”

“Just a few days ago, there was the horrific incident in Budgam. Just yesterday, the inquiry report on the torture and murder of a young girl, Thangjam Manorama, in Manipur in 2004 was made public. Other cases such as Pathribal (2000), Ganderbal (2006), Kupwara (2005, 2006) and Bomai (2009) have gone without investigation or punishment,” he noted.

“The underlying cause is the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 and a similar law in force in Jammu & Kashmir. AFSPA is an obnoxious law that has no place in a modern, civilised country. It purports to incorporate the principle of immunity against prosecution without previous sanction. In reality, it allows the Armed Forces and the CAPFs to act with impunity,” he said.

Recounting the initiative the Home Ministry had taken in 2010, he said “amendments were proposed to Section 4(a) which allows the use of force ‘even to the causing of death’. Amendments were also proposed to the sections that permitted search or arrest without warrant in all circumstances. The draft amendments were stoutly resisted by the Armed Forces and the Ministry of Defence”.

Arguing that there was a need to amend criminal and security laws and bring them in conformity with globally accepted standards of human rights, he said “we must make a beginning with AFSPA” and asked the government, “especially the Home Minister and the Defence Minister to bring a Bill to amend AFSPA in the Winter session of Parliament”.

What he said earlier

February 2013

“The Army has taken a strong stand against any dilution of the AFSPA. We can’t move forward because there is no consensus. The present and former Army Chiefs have taken a strong position that the Act should not be amended… They also do not want the government notification (of bringing areas under the AFSPA) to be taken back. How does the government move forward to make the AFSPA a more humanitarian law?”

June 2012

“There is no change in the position. MHA’s position is that the Act must be amended and we have proposed three amendments to the Act which is under consideration of the Cabinet Committee on Security.”

September 2011

“I am trying to revisit AFSPA but as you know, one needs to build a consensus within the government before amendments can be brought before Parliament… We are trying. You know we have tried in the past.”

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    Bln Murthy
    Nov 15, 2014 at 7:10 am
    What was he doing when his party ruled for ten years and he himself was home minister for som years?
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      CP Nair
      Nov 15, 2014 at 2:28 am
      AFSPA is needed for the armed forces to effectively deal with insurgents and secessionists, but its use should be monitored at each level and those found misusing it should be punished severely like the Machil case accused.
      Reply
      1. H
        Harish
        Nov 15, 2014 at 7:06 am
        Well, another admission of impotence.
        Reply
        1. M
          Mamata Das
          Nov 15, 2014 at 10:26 pm
          I am all for less army presence: for the sake of both residents and army men. But these decisions must be based on security needs, not politics and emotional drama.
          Reply
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            Mahender Goriganti
            Nov 15, 2014 at 3:22 am
            A great disclosure of what he and his gov did not do but also, imaginary allegations on army in general. at times out of frustration and long duty every human being over reacts, such incidents should be dealt with as accidents out of frustration rather than as a dysfunctional army in a country of 1.3 and 2 million army of a rare incident. Especially because of the paucity of resources and menace of perpetual terror going on and cirstances they live in at a danger to their lives. If any, it should be strengthened and broadened especially in view of IS and Al qaeda threat.
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              ceedeeram
              Nov 15, 2014 at 3:55 am
              I would appreciate Chidu asking for AFSPA amendment if he first send his son in uniform to Jand K to serve and gets the first hand experience!
              Reply
              1. V
                Vengrai
                Nov 15, 2014 at 4:17 am
                After hibernating for so many years he has now come up with a proposal.Good as far it goes. The BJP government, one is sure, will go into the merits of the case.There is nothing wrongwith the message but one wonders why the messenger has taken such a long time to wake up. Sathya Pararth
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                  Citizen
                  Nov 15, 2014 at 2:11 am
                  why he opened his eyes to day this problem/demand is there from the beginning but all these guys kept quite for what???? Just to garnish votes??? With out this fully knowing our politicians it is like gun with out bullets??? Let this be decided the people even on the ballot otherwise we are all innocents exposed to the worst!! Kudos to all defense guys who are keeping us safe. Jaihind
                  Reply
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