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Editorial
Repeal all draconian laws
AFSPA concerns people's basic rights and is not an issue of academic debate
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In his tongue-in-cheek remarks on the question of lifting of draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has left no one in doubt that in view of New Delhi's opposition to any move for even partial lifting of this draconian law from any part of Jammu and Kashmir, he is having second thought on this question. Talking to newspersons after inaugurating a seminar on National Rural Health Mission programme in Srinagar the chief minister said that he would no more talk about the lifting of AFSPA from some areas of the State. "To be honest, I am not talking about AFSPA right now. For the last ten days, we have witnessed two violent incidents which have definitely given credence both for presence and revocation of AFSPA". By implication Omar Abdullah justifies the opposition to any move for revocation of AFSPA in view of the threats from some militant groups. The overwhelming demand for revocation of AFSPA not only by the human rights groups but also by the vast majority of the people of the State is not an issue of any academic debate. In fact for the victims of this lawless law it is a question of life and death, of their very survival and liberty.

Even when he talked of partial and gradual removal of AFSPA the chief minister betrayed his lack of understanding about the draconian nature of this Act, a law which violates all cannons of democracy. For the suffering people of the State as well as for the human rights groups and activists this lawless law should go lock, stock and barrel. Its removal from the areas where peace prevails or where it is not operative does not make any sense. This law provides unlimited and unrestricted powers to "shoot, arrest and search" any one merely on suspicions to the armed forces in the name of aiding civil power. It promotes culture of impunity for any such act. This law clearly violates Article 21 of the Constitution of India which states that "No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law". Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands arrested in Jammu and Kashmir and North East Areas of the Country, where the AFSPA has been enforced, by the Armed Forces enjoying absolute power and immunity for their actions under this black law. AFSPA violates all international human rights and humanitarian law standards, including the International Covenant on Civil And Political Rights (ICCPR) to which India is a signatory.

Clearly, a few incidents of violence by some armed groups in no way justify the relevance and necessity of the draconian laws like the AFSPA , Disturbed Areas Act or even equally draconian Public Safety Act which infringe upon the fundamental rights of the citizens, violate the provisions of the Constitution of India and are also against the cannons of democracy. The militant attacks have occurred in several parts of the country on a much bigger scale but it was not thought prudent to invoke the draconian laws like AFSPA to deal with the situation. Then how can any one justify the enforcement of such black laws in J&K and some north-eastern parts of the country. The clamping of such black laws only on J&K or Manipur only shows that New Delhi does not consider the people in these areas as the citizens of India.


News Updated at : Friday, July 5, 2013
 
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