An apprehension of something evil envelopes Andrea’s conscience as she walks through the dreadful corridors of the camps which once used to be the way to the nearby town, once known for frequent terrorist infiltrations. Except for the uncovered faces and uniformity of weapons,with a sense of fearlessness and formal authority, nothing has changed for her. The rescue from armed militants, has brought along a persistent fear from the security forces, a face, known to shield the nation’s sovereignty. The reason behind her fear is due to armed forces’ special powers under AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act).
Since AFSPA came into being, Andrea finds armed forces using certain special powers, considered illegal under democracy. The armed forces hold every right to detain anyone on the grounds of mere suspicion and search any person or premises without any warrant. Even peaceful gatherings are widely discouraged and absence of ID proofs further worsens the situation. Too much violence and disturbance in the area is also reported. The armed forces has been alleged for the grave crimes of rapes and physical assaults. Due to the above reasons, there have been widespread protests by the civilians against the armed forces. Incidents such as naked protests by middle aged mothers in Manipur accusing defense forces for rape have been witnessed. Activists like Irom Sharmila had fasted, for more than 15 years, demanding the removal of AFSPA from Manipur and other parts of the North-East.
The armed forces have denied all such allegations. Lt Gen (retd.) Raj Kadyan, argues that, AFSPA helps keep the insurgency down to a level where the civil administration can carry out its functions. Also, various reports indicate increase in communal violence and terrorism in disturbed areas. It is a common feeling that some locals in Kashmir support the insurgents, so if AFSPA is removed from such areas, insurgency will increase tremendously and will be a major setback to our sovereignty. To counter all such growing concerns and have a check on terrorism, delegates from the Armed Forces believe that AFSPA is a necessity.
The entire country looks up to the Indian Armed Forces with immense respect and pride. The Armed Forces are relentlessly fighting along the border and in disturbed areas, at the cost of their lives, to protect civilians. But this should not stop us from giving a patient hearing and thought to the concerns raised by the civilians. Also AFSPA shouldn’t deter the civilians’ confidence in the Armed Forces
AFSPA’s main motive was to ensure safety and to protect the citizens in disturbed regions. Contrary to this, it has resulted in widespread violence, rapes and alienation of the locals’ interests. This signifies that it is the need of the hour that AFSPA is brought under reconsideration and amendment.