Discourse on AFSPA – Sharmila held at Imphal

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    IMPHAL, Nov 3 (NNN): Activists from various parts of the country today conglomerated at a hotel in Imphal and held a day-long discourse on Armed Forces Special Powers` Act-1958 organised by Just Peace Foundation which is supporting the cause of hunger striker Irom Sharmila.
    Irom Sharmila completes 10 years of hunger strike demanding the repeal of the AFSPA and the Just Peace Foundation sponsored 5-day Festival of Hope, Justice and Peace celebrating the spirit of hunger striker Sharmila which kick-started since November 2 is underway.
    A seminar organised as part of this 5-day festival on Wednesday witnessed indept deliberations made by the participants.
    Kaka D. Iralu, a well known activist from Nagaland said that Irom Sharmila`s struggle is not only for the people of Manipur but for the whole North Easterners and “humanity”.
    He termed the AFSPA as ” a colonial legacy”.
    Kaka D. Iralu then dwelt on the scenerio when the security forces started operating in Nagaland under AFSPA. With emotion, Kaka D. Iralu recalled how the security forces burnt down large number of Naga villages and also killed Nagas. He lamented he had written a book complete with incidents of the atrocities committed by the security forces on the Nagas under the AFSPA but six publishing houses had refused to entertain the book. “So, I quietly published it myself,” said the Nagaland activist.
    Noted rights activist from Manipur Khaidem Mani dwelt on the genesis of AFSPA-1958. He compared AFSPA with that of erstwhile POTA and said that former is much dangerous than the later. “Under POTA a suspect can only be detained though for longer period by the security forces but AFSPA permits the security forces personnel to kill anyone on mere suspicion,” said Khaidem Mani.
    Khaidem Mani also highlighted the Supreme Court Judgement on AFSPA,1958. He also dwelt the impact of the Act on the civilian life. Khaiden Mani then gave many reasons why AFSPA,1958 should not be repealed.
    Babloo Loitangbam of the Human Rights Alert said that the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) had already denounced AFSPA but India still embraces it. Babloo Loitangbam then questions that a former Prime Minister of India was killed in Tamil Nadu and many top leaders in many parts of India but there is no question of the imposition of AFSPA in those parts. “Here and there we have minor ambushes by insurgents but no Prime Minister or Union ministers or people at that level have not been attacked or killed in the North East region but AFSPA have been imposed for so many years,” rued Babloo. Quoting certain top brass of the Army set up, Babloo said,”We have been hearing top Army officers saying that no military forces will be used against `our own people` but the atrocities continue”. In fiery tone, Babloo Loitangbam asks,” From where this `our-own-people` starts and from where this `our-own-people` ends? Whether it ends at the chicken-neck Siliguri? Or at Guwahati?”.
    Journalist and rights activist Yambem Laba recalled how the movement against AFSPA started. Yambem Laba is one of the first to mobilised against the Act by filing a case in the Supreme Court some 20 years ago.
    Dr Arambam Lokendra spoke on the Jeevam Reddy Committee report at length. He said that the geo-politics and the geo-strategy of India have been re-modelled due to China phobia and Pakistan and “which is why North East India region today has become the fortress of the Army.”
    Dr Promod of LMS Law College said that AFSPA has no place in the Indian Constitution. “Rather it contradicts the Constitutional approach,” he said.
    Rakesh Meihoubam of Human Rights Law Network deliberated on the Manorama murder episode. He said the anti-AFSPA slogans gained momentum in Manipur after the Manorama episode.
    Bimol Akoijam of Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi gave an analytical and scholarly perspective of the AFSPA. He said the Act has reduced the people to the lowest form of life. “We are just barely alive,” he said while echoeing the Aristotle`s view on human life.
     

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