Irom Sharmila abandoning her dance with the death starvation has put back the so-called ‘immovable law’ back in spotlight.The debate around AFSPA is in fact as old as the law itself, waxing and wanning periodically through many decades that it has been around in the country.
The AFSPA(Armed Forces Special Protection Act) bill was passed in September-1958, to tackle the Naga insurgency in the state of Assam.The law based on armed forces(special powers) ordinance 1942 issued during Quit india movement ironically on 15th August, the colonial ordinance allows:
1.Army personnel down to non commissioned officers up to the rank of a Captain the power to use force after giving due warning even to causing of death, if they are convinced it is necessary to do so for maintaining public order
2.It also grants soldiers executive powers to enter premises, search and arrest without a warrant
3. Action taken in line of duty cannot be prosecuted in civilian courts unless sanctioned by Central government(which wont ever issue any such thing)
Finally Supreme Court pointed out keeping AFSPA indefinitely defeats the purpose of what is essentially an emergency provision.When the law and order machinery is broken down and the state is under President’s rule,AFSPA may be understandable.But at other times presence of the army which comes under defense ministry often undermines the elected state government and complicates the political process especially in Kashmir as it is the highest funded state of the country
Nehru writing to then Assam chief minister said, “We have always to remember that the real solution will require political approach and an attempt to make the Nagas feel that we are friendly to them and that can be at home to India.”
Replace Nagas with Kashmiris and the quote, 60 years on still works