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AFSPA, a main election plank in M’pur
Published on 7 Apr. 2009 1:13 AM IST
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Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has become a major issue during this Lok Sabha election and almost all the political parties have been trying to bank on it. Manipur People’s Party (MPP) candidate Th Chaoba, in his bid to woo voters, has assured to work for repeal of the controversial act. O Joy, MLA of MPP, said the AFSPA was used by the British Empire against Indian freedom fighters and only a commissioned officer was empowered to kill anybody on mere suspicion. However, the act had been amended by the Centre and instead of a commissioned officer, even a Havildar was empowered to kill anybody on mere suspicion, he alleged. Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had promised to take action after the Jeevan Reddy Commission submitted its report on the matter. The Commission recommended repeal of the Act. However, the government did not do anything in this regard, he said. The ruling Congress and CPI have also expressed their disapproval against the imposition of the Act. Congress had contended that the AFSPA should be removed from seven Assembly constituencies of Manipur in 2004 by the UPA government. AFSPA has become an issue of hot debate due to the alleged killings of large number of youths by security personnel. Former Union Minister Th Chaoba, from the MPP, alleged that most of the youths had been killed in fake encounters. R K Anand, MLA of MPP, alleged that the CPI, a partner of the ruling Secular Progressive Front (SPF), was playing a safe game by blaming the government and at the same time enjoying the privilege of being in the ruling alliance. Th Meinya, Congress candidate from Inner Manipur constituency, also spoke against the Act. W Nipamacha of the BJP and other candidates have voiced their opposition to the Act and assured to work for its repeal. Manipur goes to polls on April 16 and April 22 for two Lok Sabha seats, and 16 candidates, including three women, are in the fray.

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