Editorial

Abhorrent Act

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 8/22/2018 12:12:37 PM IST

 Debates and PIL over the maintainability of the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers)Act 1958 has been on for several decades over which attempts were made to make it “more humane” by removing some of the clauses considered “draconian”. It was therefore quite unprecedented that over 300 Army personnel have petitioned the Supreme Court, seeking legal protection while carrying out counter-insurgency operations. The reason for this unusual step is, of course, the prosecution of defence personnel by the civil agencies, notably recent court directives relating with fake encounter killings in Manipur. This issue has always divided two schools of thought- one that is convinced that unless AFSPA was in force, the army won’t be able to have a free hand to go all out in tackling militants. The other school of thought believes that the main problem with AFSPA is that it totally insulates the uniformed personnel from being held accountable for various act of omission or commission . It may be noted that the AF(SP)Act 1958 has been in force in Nagaland since 1958 under varying degrees. The Act is considered a necessity by the armed forces in order to operate against underground groups across the north east. The Act comes within the enabling provisions of Section 3 of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). The Act is meant to facilitate counter-insurgency operations by the Indian army in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura(though the latter has revoked the Act from the state). The Act also provides overriding powers to the armed forces by which any officer even down to the level of an NCO can order any action during operations which may even mean curtailment of the fundamental rights of any citizen through detention and even result in death. After providing such draconian powers, the Act then insulates the armed forces from being taken to civil court without the nod from the Central government. The AFSPA is a symbol of legalised repression for Nagas who had faced untold tragedies since the 50s throughout Nagaland (then Naga Hills district and Naga Hills Tuensang Area). The Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee had submitted its report in 2005 wherein it had recommended the repeal of the Act. Perhaps it may have been debated but the question why is the Armed Forces(Special Powers)Act in force only in the north east states and Jammu and Kashmir, when there have been many violent Naxal incidents in several states, claiming the lives of hundreds of central paramilitary and police forces? The AFSPA has not been promulgated in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh-Tamil Nadu border and Telangana despite Naxals/Maoists killing hundreds of central and state security personnel during the past many years. Be that as it may, the Congress and other parties were more inclined towards reviewing of the AFSPA and enact a less draconian Act while the BJP is seen as being totally inclined towards retaining the Act in its current form so as to enable the Army to operate unhindered while aiding the civil government. Under the cover of AFSPA 1958 untold atrocities were perpetrated across Nagaland and those responsible have evaded responsibility from being prosecuted for heinous crimes. Instead ,it is unfortunate that there are people who vehemently defend the act that should have no place in a civilised democracy.  

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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