AFSPA`s provision of special immunity to armed forces should be removed`

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IMPHAL August 18: No individuals should be held immune of investigations or trials irrespective of the official position or status one holds when the person is suspicious of illegal activities or liable to a crime, Babloo Loitongbam was saying while citing Anna Hazarre’s movement for transparency and accountability in the governance of the country and the subsequent tussle with the government.

He was delivering a speech as a special guest at a function marking the entry of the 54th year of Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

While addressing the function organized by the Just Peace Foundation (JPF), he maintained that the special immunity bestowed to the Armed forces, postulated under the AFSPA Act 1958, wherein the state government’s inaction to conduct any actions or investigations at times of infringement of democratic norms and conditions by the armed forces without the directives from the central government should be strike out completely.

Rule of Law should be maintained strictly and should be made applicable to every citizen with no exception whatsoever, Babloo asserted.

Drawing significant similarities of Irom Sharmila’s decade long struggle with that of Anna Hazare’s, Babloo Loitongbam maintained that one demands to stop killing by the legitimate Arm forces while the other has called for refrain from corruption in the country.

During the function a report titled “The Arm Forces Special Power Act 1958 in Manipur and other State of the Northeast of India: Sanctioning repression in violation of India’s human rights obligations” was also released. The report is a collaborative initiation of Human Rights Alert with a London based rights organization REDRESS and Hong Kong based Asian Human rights commission.

Boby Roy, convener CORE, Y. Laba, Human rights activist and other leaders of various women organizations of the state attended the function as the special guests.

In the mean time, the Just Peace Foundation in a press release giving a gist on the evolutionary account of Arm forces special powers Act since the then colonial period stated that National Alliance of People’s movements (NAPM), National Fish Workers’ Federation (NFF) and People Union of Civil liberties (PUCL) have called for a nationwide protest ‘Free Sharmila, Repeal AFSPA’ calling upon the Government of India to repeal the AFSPA Act and free Irom Sharmila from May 22 to August 18. The release added that many civil originations have shown solidarity in various ways to support the struggle as a part of the nation wide campaign.

The Foundation in the release further stated that Hind Swaraj, Kerala is organizing Irom Sharmila’s play Le Mashale from August 16-26 in ten different locations of Kerala to support Sharmila’s cause.

The release added that the play is a monologue in which Sharmila tells the story of Manipur through fables, dances and major incidents which had changed her life. Le Mashale will be stage in Chennai and Bengaluru as well in the coming days, the release further, added.

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