KANGPOKPI, September 5: If we struggle persistently long enough for the upkeep of human rights, justice is achievable. However, the struggle is not simple. It has been and will continue be fought largely by ordinary people. If we stand together against any human rights violation under Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958, it will disappear one day.
This was said by Human Rights Alert executive director Babloo Loitongbam said during a one day workshop on International Humanitarian law and Right to Life at Kangpokpi today.
Speaking as a resource person, Babloo said for the last 56 years, the AFSPA has been in placed in the Northeast States and many innocents have been killed under the Act.
He said the world was unaware of the presence of such a draconian Act in India’s Northeast and the Act had somewhat become insurmountable. However, since Irom Chanu Sharmila began her struggle 14 years ago demanding the Act’s repeal, people have started knowing of the Act, he said.
AFSPA’s moral legitimacy has been broken down by Sharmila, the human rights activist continued.
The Indian Army known as the third largest in the entire world has started to crumble under the determination of Sharmila, which is indicated by the absence of any fake encounter extrajudicial killings of innocent civilians in the State during the past two-three years, he said.
He continued that there are 1528 alleged cases of extrajudicial killings under AFSPA in the State which have been submitted to the Supreme Court, six random cases were taken up last year and have been found to be fake encounter cases involving security forces in the State.
The human rights activist further said a special investigation team for fake encounter cases in the State should be established as investigation conducted by State forces are unsatisfactory.
Even if all such cases cannot be examined, the six which have been found fake should be investigated and the perpetrators tried in the court, he said.
He further sought compensation to families of fake encounter victims.
Human Rights, in the simplest way, means ‘Knowing and Struggling”, averred Babloo Loitongbam.
Speaking on the issue of Chandel landmines, Babloo Loitongbam maintained that the use of landmines by both the State and non-State actors have created serious problems.
He said it is particularly a sensitive issue because any talk with one of the sides would mean interrogation by the other side.
But, nevertheless we are also sending information so that they also read and understand the Geneva Call and at least the leaders who are the authorities know that landmines are something that have been banned internationally, he said.
He continued that there are many international bodies including Geneva Call who can gives mine clearance but unfortunately the Government of India does not allow any foreign agencies to come and do mine clearance while adding that the only agency who can assist in mine clearance in India as of now is the Indian army.
Babloo also pointed out that the non-State actors assumed that whatever they do is for the welfare and cause of the land.
He said they still live in a world, where they think everything they do is still fair if it is for the cause of the land.
However, they need to be reminded that there are limits to everything, even if they are working for the cause of the land, the human rights activist said.
He said if they consider themselves to be working for the people, then they would have to comply with the international humanitarian laws.
Speaking on the discrimination of Northeasterners in the national capital, Babloo said there is a fundamental problem with the way the Indian State has defined the minorities.
According to the Indian Constitution, minorities are classified as religious minority and linguistic minority, he said before adding that according to the UN declaration there are two more categories which are the national minority and ethnic minority.
Therefore, it is important on the part of the Indian Government to recognise national and ethnic minorities for the safety of the Northeast people and allow them to live life with dignity like others do, asserted Babloo.
A part from various dignitaries’ leaders of Kuki Inpi Sadar Hills, Kuki Women Union Sadar Hills, Mother’s Union, Kangpokpi AC, Kangpokpi Town Committee, Kangpokpi Women Welfare Organization, Kangpokpi Youth Union, Manipur Theological College and scores of general public attended the workshop.