Written by: Babloo Loitongbam (Executive Director – Human Rights Alert )
If performance was the criteria, then AFSP Act
should have long gone from the statue book. For, the Act has failed to stem
insurgency in the region.
In 1958, when Parliament enacted the Act, there
was only one group — the Nagas — rising up in arms against the
Today, after half-a-century of the Act
facilitating military operations, the northeast is witnessing a million
mutinies embracing the entire ethnic community of the region.
If proof was at all needed, this should have
been sufficient indictment of the gross inefficacy of the Act in controlling
insurgencies, let alone resolving them.
The premise that flexing military muscles will
eliminate insurgency is based on a total misreading of the causes of
The official thinking seems to be that
insurgency is merely a law and order problem which will vanish with the
application of military might.
However, it's rooted in historical injustices
and deeply felt discriminatory treatments meted out to the people. Imposition
of the Act tackles only the symptoms.
It fails to tackle the source of the problem and
therefore, has ended up aggravating the feeling of alienation.
In fact, the continued imposition of the Act
constitutes a denial of democracy. The UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) has
consistently expressed its concern that in imposing the Act, the Indian
government is exercising emergency powers without resorting to the procedure
laid down by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
And it violates a series of basic human rights
listed in the Covenant.
Yet, the denial of democracy for an alien people
inhabiting the space called the northeast hardly pricks the conscience of the
liberal voices of
This is the political paradox which is embedded
in the struggles of the people of the region, both armed and unarmed.
The denial of democracy is also demonstrated in
the suppression of democratic struggle for the repeal of the Act. A struggle
which has been enhanced powerfully by the six-year-old fasting protest by Noble Peace Prize nominee Irom Sharmila.The
Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee, which was set up to review the Act, submitted
its report last year. It recommended the Act should be repealed.
It's incomprehensible why instead of trying to
engage with the political leadership of the insurgent groups, the government is
persisting with a military approach.
continued imposition of the Act neither sits well nor carries conviction with
our elevation as a full member.