Northeast students want team to review AFSPA

Shillong, May 9 (IANS) An apex body of northeastern students’ groups has suggested to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to depute a parliamentary team to study the misuse of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the region, a student leader said Thursday.

“We have suggested to the prime minister to send a parliamentary delegation to assess and report on the misuse of the AFSPA by the armed forces deployed in the northeastern states,” North East Students Organisation (NESO) supremo Samuel Jyrwa told IANS Thursday.

The AFSPA was passed in 1990 to grant special powers and immunity from prosecution to security forces to deal with insurgency in northeastern states – in large parts of Manipur, Tripura, Assam and Nagaland and some parts of Meghalaya and in Jammu and Kashmir.

Jyrwa said: “Although, the prime minister is non-committal on the issue of repeal of the AFSPA, but he has assured us that the government will take our concern into consideration.”

“May be the government will depute a parliamentary team to study the ground realities,” he said.

On Wednesday, a delegation of the NESO leaders, an apex student’s body of various students’ unions, met the prime minister in New Delhi and reiterated their demand to repeal the AFSPA.

Irom Sharmila Chanu, a human rights activist, has been on an indefinite hunger strike for nearly a decade in Manipur, demanding the withdrawal of AFSPA from the state.

Army officials maintain that it was for the central and the state governments to decide whether to revoke or continue the AFSPA.

“Human rights groups never speak against the violence committed against the security forces. For the men in uniform, the AFSPA gives them human rights protection,” said an army official involved in counter-insurgency operations in Manipur.

Meghalaya Governor R.S. Mooshahary, who favoured the repeal of AFSPA, said: “The AFSPA should be repealed and the Criminal Procedure Code amended to protect the rights of the security forces and civilians.”

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