To insist that one must address and understand “Political Premise” of AFSPA is to insist that we must fundamentally know/address the following issues:
- “Law” is a juridico-political fact, thereby meaning it has a political premise and that must be addressed (more so with Acts like AFSPA).
- Even if the protestors prefer to de-link the political premise of AFSPA, will the Government of India, with which the protestors are engaging with in order to repeal the Act, de-link what it thinks the Act is addressing while thinking about AFSPA?
- All legislations are to address some realities/phenomena in our real world. Acts on dowry, sati, child-marriage, for that matter the recent talk of Lok Pal, all are (about) legislations to address or fight realities of our life (the menace of dowry, sati, child-marriage or corruption). Therefore, the discussions or debates on these legislations are not carried out by de-linking these realities.
- What is that AFSPA is fundamentally seeking to address? (Isn’t this a question of policy/approach and politics that informed the policy/approach, a question that is inherently implicated and critical in understanding AFSPA?)
- AFSPA is supposed to address the “disturbed condition” caused by “armed rebellion” (“khutlaipaiba lalhouba”).
- Aren’t the powers given in the Act related to “armed rebellion”, powers (actvities) that are to be exercised/performed by the military personnel?
- Why is it then that the Supreme Court says the “disturbed condition” wherein AFSPA has been enforced is not due to “armed rebellion”? (Is this a “legal” or “political” question?)
- If it is about “law and order”, are those powers noted in the Act in line with what is expected of a “law and order” enforcing mechanism or engaging in “war”, including those that can be described as “low intensity” ones?
- More crucially, if the Act is not addressing a “disturbed condition” caused by “armed rebellion” (khutlapaiba lalhouba), and it is about “law and order”, why does the Government of India outlawed those rebels groups or charged the members of these groups in Court saying that they are “waging war” against the State?
- Are these questions matters of “theory” or (as many have a habit of saying often as a way of debunking or refusing any attempt at deepening understanding on an issue) “ground reality” or both?
To those who are protesting against the AFSPA:
(a) Narratives of human tragedy, of near and dear ones having been tortured, detained, killed or made disappeared by the state agencies under the Act, are facts. But are these narratives of human tragedies un-related to the above questions/issues?
(b) But when somebody (or in “we the people” kind of programme in TV channels) brings out similar narratives of human tragedies in the hands of non-state actors, does the issue of AFSPA get diluted or distracted precisely because your fight is based on a limited or narrow legal/human rights perspective that does not address basic questions pertaining to the Act as I have noted here (as well as elsewhere)?
(c) How do you intend to make the issue of AFSPA politically significant (amongst others, keep the question/issue no. 2 above in mind as well) when your own politicians and middle class can probably sense the human tragedy and say it’s bad but insurgents also do the same and so on.
(d) Granted that, one may agree or disagree with those who are “waging a war” against the Indian State, but the fact is, IT IS THERE as A PART OF OUR REALITY. So, which one makes more sense: Address something that has been there for decades and something that affects our lives with an honest acknowledgment of the reality of “rebellion” and realistically approach the issue or continue to deny or distort the reality (which, while the AFSPA is ostensibly dealing with a phenomenon of “waging war” against the State with arms–in short, “armed rebellion” at the same time legally/juridically denying it, as in Supreme Court Judgment of 1997) OR allow one to be guided by a mob mentality or lynching mindset saying that these “extortionists” blah blah must be “eliminated” (something that the mighty Indian State has been trying for more than 50 years with its military might under a “legal fiction” all this while without success and only to be admitted now and then that we must find a “political solution”!)?
Lastly, HOLLOW promise of a “yes, yes, AFSPA must go” by your politicians or those who feel the human tragedies under the violence of the Act but have a nagging question “what after AFSPA?” for there are these “naharols” (or insurgents), can never be addressed (or rather exposed) until and unless one brings in the above TEN questions/issues into the struggle against this notorious “legal fiction” that has created havoc in our life.
[box color=”orange” type=”quote” ] These are some of the concerns that I have in mind when I insist on “political issue/premise” of AFSPA that we must take care![/box]