Crimes and Conflict

Action taken in the line of duty!

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New Delhi indicating that Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) cannot be reviewed in crimes against women in conflict zones has punctured the hype created by the recommendations submitted by Justice Verma panel.
The Justice Verma Committee had been set up to review laws dealing with crimes against women in the aftermath of the public outrage over the Delhi gang-rape incident. The committee on Wednesday had recommended that armed forces and police personnel should not be given protection under the AFSPA if these men in uniform commit sexual offences against women.
However, Union Law Minister Ashwani Kumar made it clear that the review of AFSPA was a difficult issue "because the context is different," he said. "How do you divide the action taken in the line of duty where the circumstances are such that nobody knows what is going to happen?"
It is astounding that Union Law Minister believes that crimes against women in conflict zones are “actions taken in the line of duty.”
Does it mean that women living in conflict zones have no rights and even if the men in uniform outrage their chastity no action would be taken against them as they enjoy impunity under AFSPA.
Justice Verma panel deserves accolades for recommending that if men in uniform in conflict zones commit sexual crimes ordinary criminal laws should be applicable on them. At least the panel, which was set up after heinous gang rape of a young woman in Delhi, has studied in detail how vulnerable women are in conflict zones. On the other hand the people who matter in New Delhi seem to be least bothered about what people in conflict zones face. They seem to be of the firm belief that men in uniform who are fighting in conflict zones are “angels” and they need all the powers, to safeguard the national interests.
One wonders how unarmed women can pose a threat to a state and how come sexual offences fall in the category of “actions taken in the line of duty.” Union Law Minister who is an advocate by profession needs to explain what exactly he means.
Anyway recommendations of Justice Verma panel have generated a debate and if saner voices within India support the suggestions put forth by the panel, union government would be left with no other choice than to consider what the committee has suggested.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah suggesting that All Party Meeting (APM) should be held to discuss the recommendations of Justice Verma panel, is not a bad idea. If Chief Minister convenes the APM it would definitely attract lot of media attention and can make New Delhi rethink AFSPA as far as the crimes against women are concerned. Omar has been trying hard to convince New Delhi to revoke AFSPA from peaceful areas of J&K, till date the response from the other side has been cold. This is a golden chance for him to drive home his point and fulfill the promise of AFSPA going during his tenure.

Lastupdate on : Fri, 25 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 25 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST

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