IMPHAL, January 5: A working committee was formed today with the aim of coalescing civil society organisations, association and other groups working at the national and international levels to put a combined thrust for removal of AFSPA through legitimate means before the end of 2014.
The need for expansion of the base of participants in the struggle against the draconian Act was stressed during a convention on the issue which was held at Lamyanba Sanglen today.
Human rights activists Devbatra Roy stated that though Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had promised to replace AFSPA with a more humane law during the handover of Kangla Fort, the latter had taken no sincere moves to turn his words into action during the last nine years. He said though AFSPA is also a human law, there are certain provisions in the Act that are detrimental to human rights and had been exploited by the security personnel. If these provisions are removed then AFSPA will be rendered useless, he stated.
Among the delegates Nabakumar Uritkhinbam said that AFSPA struggle was started from 1958 when the Act was imposed in Manipur. But there still is confusion whether the situation in Manipur is an international armed conflict area or an internal one.
In his speech Babaloo Loitongbam, Director of Human Right Alert said that till now only one of the MPs from Manipur, Laishram Achou Singh has spoken in opposition to the AFSPA at Parliament arguing that it is against human rights.
In the 1990s a human right activist Yambem Laba had appealed to the Supreme Court stating that the Act is a violation of human rights.
The infamous incident of the rape and murder of Thangjam Manorama by the Indian security force shocked the mothers of Manipur who staged a nude protest at the Kangla Gate at the discrimination and sexual harassment of Manipuri women. In its aftermath, the governments of India and state were rocked by the protest against the AFSPA, he added.
He further said that recently at a press conference on completion of nine years of his term, Prime Minister did not make any mention about replacement of AFSPA by a humane law as he had told the people of Manipur and which the later had believed wholly.
He reminded that the National Human Right Commission had declared TADA and POTA as acts against human rights in 1995 and 2004 respectively but such recommendations are not forthcoming in favour of AFSPA.
Reacting sharply to the response of the prime minister, he roused the gathering asserting that the need of the hour is to launch a huge agitation to force the repeal of AFSPA in 2014 by mounting pressures on the two governments through the combined efforts of organisations and persons with integrity.
Three resolutions were adopted at the convention recommending the constitution of a working committee to push for realisation of the long standing demand for repeal AFSPA by all legitimate means during the year 2014, adoption of an action plan by the committee at the earliest opportunity and involvement of all sections of the society in order to intensify the ongoing campaign.
Prof Lokendro Arambam was the moderator while Justice C Upendra, Khangembam Anandi and Itobombi were the presidium members.