Manipur Chief Minister Biren Singh says AFSPA be reviewed, army adds its ‘prerequisite’

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IMPHAL: The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) should be reviewed, said the Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh on Wednesday, however adding that the security situation along the state’s border with a foreign country has to be considered while doing so. This comes amid assertions by the army that the AFSPA is a “prerequisite” and “necessity” for conducting counter-insurgency operations.

The debate on the AFSPA, which provides immunity to armed forces personnel from prosecution in counter-insurgency operations, comes in the backdrop of a Supreme Court ordered probe into human rights allegations against the forces. The army, however, asserts that focusing on human rights is a part of its system and there will be no change in its strategy following these allegations. While the Manipur CM said that “justice” will be given to all, even he adds that insurgency in Manipur is a complex situation and “mistakes” can be made.

Deliberating on the complexities on the Manipur insurgency, Singh without naming any countries also said that financial and arms support to insurgents from foreign countries cannot be ruled out. Security agencies are in the know of several insurgents camps in Myanmar that are used as bases to infiltrate into India and carry out attacks.

“AFSPA has been lifted from Imphal, but we (read as Manipur) are bordering with foreign countries and insurgency movement is there…the time has come to review AFSPA, but there are immediate neighbouring countries. All this should be taken into account while reviewing,” said the Manipur CM while interacting with a group of national media journalists in Imphal.

Explaining how the AFSPA benefits security forces, Major General Vijay Mishra, the General Officer Commanding of the army’s Manipur based 57 Mountain Division, said, “Is this a necessity, the answer is yes. There are number of activities undertaken over a period of time such as searches and intelligence. If you don’t have AFSPA how do you do it…its a prerequisite.”

Mishra added that AFSPA should not be reconsidered or removed. “Look at the example of Tripura. Over a period of time we contained it (insurgency). The same is not the case here. The apprehensions touches about 350 per year. They come out on bail and there are weapons, so is this the time to think.”

While adding that the situation has “normalised” since the past, the officer said if certain areas are “de-notified” from AFSPA, there are chances that they can become safe havens for insurgents. “When we reach a stage of the state police and administration being able to completely control the situation, then yes we can,” said Mishra. (Check this)

Adding that the army is “sensitive” to human rights issues, he said, “as far as allegations are concerned anyone can make them…we are clear that human rights is in built in our culture.”

The Manipur CM on the matter explained that the Manipur insurgency is unlike the one in Kashmir. “Here it is happening in our own state, so identifying who is who is difficult. Sometimes mistakes from security forces personnel happen. The insurgency situation in Manipur is very complicated,” he said.

While Mishra says such allegations will not affect the morale to troops, over 700 army personnel have filed petitions in the apex court against any dilution of AFSPA. There have been 1528 allegations of extra-judicial killings against the security forces from late 1970s when the insurgency was hot until 2012. Out of this, petitioners in the Supreme Court on the matter have been able to gather details of 655 deaths. Following directions from the Supreme Court, a Central Bureau of Investigation SIT is probing 40 operations that led to 85 alleged extra-judicial killings.

2017- CBI SIT setup on probing human rights violations. Currently investigations ongoing

1528 persons killed in extrajudicial deaths from late 1970s to 2012.

93 percent of HR allegations proved wrong.

Petitioners have been able to gather details of 655 deaths out of 1528 deaths

Common inquiry- 35

Judicial inquiry and HC cases- 37

NHRC cases- 23

Cases with written complaint- 170

Cases with oral complaint-78

Cases with witness complaint in writing (not clear in writing)- 134

Family claimed cases- 178

CBI SIT investigating 40 operations leading to 85 deaths





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