//Mass Demonstration against AFSPA, 1958

Mass Demonstration against AFSPA, 1958

ITO, Delhi, 11 October 2006, Time: 11:00 AM


Miss Irom Sharmila has been on hunger strike since Nov 2006 demanding the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act 2000. This was her immediate response to the Malom Massacre (Manipur) of 2nd Nov 2000 when the Assam Rifles massacred 10 innocent civilians, including women and children, and brutally assaulted more than 64 civilians in the name of counter insurgency. She was arrested on the charge of attempted homicide and has been forced fed in custody. After her escape she reached Delhi on 4th October and continued her hunger strike at Janter Manter, Delhi. She was arrested by the police on 6th October 2006. The people’s movement against Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958, (AFSPA) has been continuing since the time of its very imposition in 1958.

The movement has been historically fought by many struggling communities. It is important to remember that when the Act was enacted for the first time in 1958, many regions where the Act was imposed did not have a manifestation of armed struggle. Moreover, this Act of 1958 is the continuation of a colonial law (to suppress Quit India Movement-1942) in ‘post-colonial’ India. The inherent colonial character of independent India is manifested in the ‘continuance’ defining the frontiers as politico-military regions only. The resistance against AFSPA is imminent in the wake of prolonged experiences of involuntary disappearances, rape, killings on mere suspicion, protest, self-immolation, nude protest, ceaseless hunger strikes and street protests.

The rape and killing of Thangjam Monarama by paramilitary, nude protest of Manipuri women, self-immolation of Pebam Chitranjan against AFSPA and continuing hunger strike of Irom Sharmila against AFSPA since November 2000 are some of the accounts that explain the existential state of the people in Manipur and elsewhere. This shared experience of existential deprivation of many societies is well reflected in some of the Clauses of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958, as the most fundamental question of Right to life itself is suspended.

To cite, under the Article 4 Clause (a) of the AFSPA, the security forces can use force “even causing death” on mere grounds of suspicion and ‘arrest any person without warrant’ and Article 6 further implicates a total derailing of the autonomy of federal/constituting units of India as it says that without a prior approval of the Central government no commissions or prosecutions or other legal proceedings be constituted against the issues concerning the Act. Such tendencies of the Act spell out the politics of defining how specific communities are suspected historically by the Indian State which is aptly seen in the Article 4 (a) of AFSPA.

The struggle against AFSPA has been successful in initiating a wider demand for repealing the Act at the mass level. Today, the presence of Irom Sharmila in Delhi (arrested by Delhi police on 6th Oct 06) continuing her hunger strike at AIIMS and not being responded to the demand for repeal by the Government has in turn strengthened the collective struggle against the Act.

It is important to remember that when the movement against the AFSPA in 2004 reached a significant height, the GOI set up the Justice Reddy Committee to review the Act. This Committee report has still not been made public by the GOI. Ironically, the leaked copy of the report has nothing substantial for the people despite its recommendation for the ‘Repeal of the Act’. For, it recommends the incorporation of AFSPA in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 which will be operable all over India. The ‘collective’ will always fight against any form of re-appropriation of the Act. We demand:

* Immediate Repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958.

* Make the Justice Reddy Review Committee Report on AFSPA, 1958, public.

* Do not retain AFSPA in any form.

Issued by:

MSAD, NPMHR, LRS, SAHELI, DMMSA, JNUSU, AISA, DSU, FDI, MRFD, JAGORI, PSU, Other Media, PUDR, PUCL, PLS, HRA, HRLN, Oxfam, Amnesty I, SANGAT, CG PI, MPO, ISI-Delhi, New Democracy. KJS, SAD, KYSV, JKLF, Yuba Bharat, Justice for worker, NTUI, SPDPR.

Mail: [email protected]/ [email protected]/ [email protected]

Date: 08-10-2006.

Contacts: 9899925345 (Malem), 9312314339 (Rojesh), 9811352626 (Banerjit).