Civil Society Asks CM To Revoke AFSPA Unilaterally


Srinagar, Jan 24: With the recommendations of Justice J S Verma Committee at their back, the civil society of Kashmir has demanded that Government of India and State Government should repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir forthwith.
“Both the Centre and the State Government should honour the recommendations of the panel and repeal the AFSPA that provides unbridled powers and immunity to the central forces operating in Jammu and Kashmir. It should be repealed without further delay as its continuance has brutalized and suppressed us for the past two decades,” Syed Shakeel Qalandar, member of Kashmir Centre for Social and Developmental Studies (KCSDS), told media persons here.
The civil society group put onus on Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for revocation of AFSPA, saying that he shouldn’t not only lobby hard for its repeal, but also follow the Manipur model to “bury the law.”
In 2004, Manipur Government revoked AFSPA from the limits of Imphal city, without taking Central government on board after massive protests over alleged human rights violations by armed forces.
“It is high time for Omar Abdullah, who has been repeatedly saying that the Act should be revoked, to do away with the Act. Why should he wait for getting nod from New Delhi? Are not we powerful enough to repeal it? If a weak state like Manipur can do away with the Act, why cannot a constitutionally powerful state like Jammu and Kashmir repeat the Manipur model?” Qalandar asked. “The state government is now accountable before people and duty bound to lobby for passing of the Justice Verma report in Parliament,” he added.
Terming Omar Abdullah’s suggestion of calling an all-party meet to discuss the report as a positive development, Qalandar said, “We appeal all political parties of the state to join hands to build pressure for implementation of the recommendation.”
Terming the recommendations of the Verma panel as a “ray of hope “and “victory for Kashmiris”, KCSDS members claimed that majority of their recommendations have been accepted by the panel.
“Last week, we had submitted a bunch of recommendations to the panel and we are thankful to the three-member Commission for incorporating our demands in their report,” the group said.
During the deposition session, the two major demands of the group were complete withdrawal of AFSPA and Public Safety Act and prosecution of all uniformed perpetrators of crimes against women in a civil court.
Besides, the group had also pressed for: complete demilitarization of civilian space; prosecution of all perpetrators of crimes against women whether resulting from public or domestic violence; call for an end to culture of impunity; restraining media from distorting Kashmir related stories.
They also expressed gratitude to civil society groups from North East and New Delhi for supporting their demand.
“Activists like Vrinda Grover and Tapan Bose spoke in favour of our demand when we presented the demands before the panel,” the group said.
The KCSDS, however, said that AFSPA debate shouldn’t be confined only to crimes against womenfolk, “but in our state, it is part of bigger problem that promoted the culture of injustice and impunity.”
Referring to crimes against women in Jammu and  Kashmir, the group claimed that there have been more than 10000 cases of alleged rape and molestation by the armed forces during the past two decades.
“International rights organizations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Asia Watch have called, from time to time, to investigate the crimes perpetrated by the forces,” said Abdul Majid Zargar, another member of KCSDS.
Zargar said that women have been at the receiving end in the state during the past two decades and “they have suffered more than their counterparts in conflict zones.”
Some civil society members also flayed the state government for “failing to make any headway in repealing the Act”.
“They are rubbing salt onto the wounds of Kashmiris by making statements (over AFSPA) for their petty political interests,” they added.
Among others, columnist Z G Muhammad, Qurat-ul-Ain and Anwar Ashai were also present during the media interaction of civil society members.

Lastupdate on : Thu, 24 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 24 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 25 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST

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