Wajahat again: ‘AFSPA is against democracy, Constitution’

‘Such A Law Should Not Exist In Any Democratic Setup’


New Delhi, Jan 27: National Commission on Minorities chairman Wajahat Habibullah Sunday said the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act was “against democracy and Constitution” and its “loopholes” should be removed after discussions with the Army if the law cannot be withdrawn from troubled areas. He said such a law should not exist in any democratic setup.
 Habibullah was commenting on The Justice Verma Committee recommendations about amendments to AFSPA so that armed forces and police personnel are not be given protection under the law if they commit sexual offences against women.
 When asked about the demands for removing AFSPA from Kashmir Valley and northeast region, he said, “Any decision to remove this law should be taken after discussion with Army.” “If this law cannot be removed, then the loopholes in this law should be removed. This should be done after discussions with Army,” Habibullah said.
 The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act was passed by the Parliament in 1958. It gives special powers to armed forces in troubled areas. It was first implemented in the North East and later in Jammu and Kashmir in 1990.
 Human Rights organisations are against the Act, as they claim that officers committing human rights violations get away with their crime due to the Act.
 Habibullah also agreed with the Verma Committee's recommendation to not give death penalty to rapists. He said in his recommendations to the Committee on January 5, he had opposed the death penalty for rapists. “I am against the death penalty. There is opposition to it in several democratic countries across the world. When I had placed my suggestion (about no death penalty for rapists) in front of the committee, several people had questioned it,” he said.
 Habibullah, who is about to complete two years as the chairman of the minorities commission, said he would ensure the safety of all officials of the commission.
 Commenting on the incidents of communal violence in the last few months, he said, “A draft law against communal violence is ready in which I had given suggestions. The law to prevent riots should be strong.”
 Pertinently, last month Wajahat criticized former Army Chief V K Singh for taking to streets against the gang rape of a girl in Delhi, asking whether allegations of rape against personnel of the force in Jammu and Kashmir have ever been enquired into.
 A former IAS officer of the Jammu and Kashmir cadre, who was also the first Chief Information Commissioner of the country, said a productive way would have been if people like Gen Singh would have advised the government on dealing with such a situation. “In his (Gen Singh's) case, I am sorry to say so, he was Commander-in-Chief of the Army. There are, at least in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, massive allegations of rape against Army. Were they ever enquired into? Was an effort made to bring justice? Here was a case of rape. Regrettable, yes. But if he wants to join in condemnation of the government against that, has he taken into account various ramifications of that,” Habibullah had told PTI in an interview.

Lastupdate on : Sun, 27 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 27 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 28 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST

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