In a meeting with Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on the second day of his visit to Mizoram, Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP), the apex student body of Mizoram, requested for the revocation of the Armed Forces (Special) Powers Act.
The MZP was among the civil society groups that had an audience with the V-P.
MZP president Lalnunmawia Pautu told EastMojo, “On behalf of the student body, I requested him to kindly revoke AFSPA and to take initiatives for the same. He did not react to my statement. He just said, we will look into it. We had very limited time.”
In a letter put forward to the Prime Minister, the student body wrote, “The Armed Forces (Special) Powers Acts (AFSPA), though draconian, has no issue in Mizoram but is a matter of serious concern for Zo people in Manipur (known by various nomenclatures). We feel the Act is a sign of discrimination and alienation for the people where it applies. It looks as though India is treating the people in its NorthEastern part as second citizens or colony which is occupied or retained by force against the willingness of the people.”
“International organisations have questioned and criticised the Act. The United Nations Human Rights Committee in 1991 questioned the validity of the Act under the Constitution of India itself and justification in light of Article 4 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. UN Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay also, on 23 March 2009, asked India to repeal the Act.”
She termed the law “dated and colonial-era law that breach contemporary international human rights standards”.
UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Christof Heyns, on 31 March 2012 had asked India to revoke the Act. The Human Rights Watch criticised it as a “tool of state abuse, oppression and discrimination,” they highlighted further.
The letter signed by MZP president Lalnunmawia Pautu and general secretary Jacob Lalmuanpuia closed with the statement, “We, therefore, hereby request the Government of India to have the courage to repeal the Armed Forces (Special) Powers Act (AFSPA).”
AFSPA grants the Indian military extraordinary powers to use force—even to the extent of causing death—as well as protection from prosecution in “disturbed” areas, which are notified by the central government. It is currently in force in all or parts of four north-eastern states—Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur—and also in Jammu and Kashmir. The law is descended directly from colonial legislation intended to suppress the Quit India movement.
Protests against AFSPA were renewed after the death of 13 civilians who were gunned down by personnel of the Indian Army’s 21 Para Special Forces in Oting village in Nagaland on December 4 and 5, 2021.
Statewide campaigns were held requesting for the revocation of AFSPA. However, on December 30, the central government published a notification stating that AFSPA would be extended in the state of Nagaland for another six months.
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