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Shillong: Chairperson of Meghalaya Human Rights Commission Justice T Vaiphei on Friday stated that he is in favour of repealing the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) and has termed it “nothing but an instrument of harassment” against the civilians.

In an exclusive interview with EastMojo, Justice T Vaiphei questioned the use of AFSPA and stated that this law has been there for 40 years in states like Manipur and Nagaland, and yet insurgency still exists.

“I personally feel that it has never solved any issues; the insurgency continues. This provision was made for combating insurgencies or terrorism but, personally speaking, it doesn’t work; it becomes an instrument of harassment against the civilians,” said Justice Vaiphei.

He also suggested that if it can’t be repealed then at least it should be modified so that some resemblance of human rights of the civilians is honoured. He also urged the Centre to re-look into this Act and suggested that more power be given to the local police to root out problems.

Adding that it all requires committed policemen, Justice Vaiphei said, “The question here is about commitment and not power. If you have the power and are really committed to it then no forces on earth can prevent them from containing or rooting it out.”

Justice Vaiphei is also heading the judicial inquiry into the killing of ex-HNLC militant Cherishterfield Thangkhiew. He refused to divulge or make any comments stating that the inquiry is ongoing, though the MHRC chairperson said that the inquiry is at the periphery and hasn’t entered the arena yet.

“I cannot say at this stage whether there was a violation of human rights or not. I couldn’t complete it within three months’ time, hence sought an extension. I had four to five sittings… It is difficult to quicken the proceeding because we have to observe the procedure. Procedural wrangling is always there, that is why no inquiry commission could be concluded so fast,” said Justice Vaiphei.

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