PDP regrets non-removal of AFSPA

Last Updated: Sun, Feb 03, 2013 13:20 hrs

Jammu, Feb 3 (IANS) The "decision to ignore" a recommendation of a panel, formed for making anti-rape laws stringent, to revoke the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) could prove "counter-productive", Jammu and Kashmir's main opposition party said here.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, while welcoming the recommendations of Justice J.S. Verma Committee and the prompt action on it taken by the central government, regretted the failure to revoke the AFSPA, as suggested by the panel Jan 23.

The proposal was a part of the report the committee submitted on ways to make rape laws more stringent in the country.

"...The decision to ignore the Verma panel recommendations could prove counter productive," Mufti said about non-revocation of the AFSPA.

In its 631-page report, the three-member committee called for amendment to Section 6 of the AFSPA which gives the Indian armed forces search and seize powers and immunity from legal action against them during the operations in the states that have been declared "disturbed areas" riddled with militancy.

"This is clearly a case of double standards and reflects poorly on our national resolve to uphold women's dignity and rights without discrimination, which got a resounding expression recently in the wake of Delhi gang-rape," the Mufti said at a public meeting at Marh near here.

The Mufti said Justice Verma's recommendations on bringing crimes against women universally under the jurisdiction of civil courts was a welcome, first step towards revocation of the AFSPA which was introduced in totally different circumstances in states.

"(It) was unfortunate that the union cabinet did not even discuss the recommendations. This sends out a highly negative signal to people of Jammu and Kashmir and other states covered by it," he said.

Currently, Jammu and Kashmir and four northeast states of Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, and Assam are under the AFSPA.

Security personnel have been accused of committing rapes in these regions where the forces enjoy special powers to tackle militancy and insurgency.

Rights activists have been demanding revocation of the AFSPA from these regions.

The "AFSPA could not be a permanent feature of governance", the Mufti said. Such laws were meant only for exceptional situations which no more exist in Jammu and Kashmir," he added.

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