NEW DELHI, Aug 19 (IANS): Home Minister P. Chidambaram Thursday said changes proposed by his ministry in the special powers accorded to the armed forces in troubled areas could be effected after consultations with all concerned.
‘We have to have consultations with everybody before amendments are made’ to the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), Chidambaram said, adding that his ministry had proposed amendments to it.
AFSPA provides legal immunity to the armed forces for any collateral damage, including deaths, during anti-terror operations. It is in place in Jammu and Kashmir and parts of the northeast.
Chidambaram was speaking in the Lok Sabha on the economic blockade of the national highways in Manipur.
Ruling out any division of Manipur as demanded by some Naga groups, the home minister said the government would ensure ‘honour, dignity and equal rights’ of the Nagas within the constitution.
He said the government was taking ‘all measures to ensure that essential commodities are available in adequate quantities in all parts of Manipur’ in the wake of the second road blockade in the first week of August.
The government is monitoring the situation on a daily basis and will take necessary steps to maintain adequate stocks of food grains and other essential commodities in Manipur, he said.
This is the second economic blockade of National Highway 39 and 53 to Manipur.
Earlier, United Naga Council (UNC) and other Naga bodies of Manipur protesting against the holding of elections to the six autonomous district councils in Manipur had blocked road links to Manipur from April 6.
He said adequate number of central para military forces were made available to the Manipur government for escorting vehicles along NH-39 from Dimapur to Imphal.
Transportation of food grains by railways has also commenced, the home minister said.
He said from Aug 4-17, 71 tankers of petrol, 207 tankers of diesel, 10 tankers of kerosene, 78 bullets of cooking gas, 120 trucks of food grains, 14 trucks of medicine and six trucks of cement have reached Imphal through NH 39 under Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) escort.
When Sri Chidambaram says we have to have consultations with everybody he means the Army whose spokesperson in cabinet is the Defence Minister A K Antony but India doesn’t wish to be compared with the other military dictatorships in this region so they talk about consultation when they mean permission. I wonder what would happen if the Government defied the military.
Amendments are a start. And if they were enough for Irom Sharmila Chanu I’d settle. But it’s a bit like the british pensioner who felt so sorry that their doggy’s tail had to be amputated that they decided to chop it off bit by bit every day.
Why does India want laws protecting its military from war crimes at home. The immunity would only apply within India. Now that the Indian Air Force has been give the authority to strafe its own civilians surely Sri Chidambaram should press that the military come under the same laws as all the other human beings living in the country. My advice to a soldier is if you are worried about being prosecuted for rape murder or crimes against humanity then don’t obey those orders. It would be far more shaming for India to have their war criminals arrested and tried in the International Criminal Court when they have retired and are on their hols.
But it’s your country most people I know think the law is ok so long as the army just shoot bad people, bad people some of them may be but they are all civilians, citizens, and they have the protection of the Universal Declaration of the Geneva and Haigue Conventions..
Let’s hope the aim of your hellicopter gunship machine gunners is good, or AF(SP)A is repealed. I still pray for the latter because if their aim were that good why do they still demand immunity from prosecution.