'You want to demoralise forces?' Amit Shah questions AFSPA proposals in Congress manifesto
The Congress, which released its election manifesto on Tuesday, promised to amend the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act or the AFSPA, that grants special powers to the Indian armed forces in 'insurgency-hit areas', if the party came to power after the ensuing Lok Sabha elections.
"In their recent manifesto, the Congress has proposed to tone down AFSPA in J&K. Do they want to demoralize the forces and their personnel?" Shah said while addressing a public meeting in Tamil Nadu's Tuticorin.
The Congress said in the manifesto, "Amend the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 in order to strike a balance between the powers of security forces and the human rights of citizens and to remove immunity for enforced disappearance, sexual violence and torture." It said suitable changes will be made in the text of the laws to balance the requirements of security and the protection of human rights.
Taking potshots at the Congress, Shah said Rahul Gandhi may have had Karti Chidambaram in mind when he recently spoke of giving bail to people --in his party manifesto-- and not lodging them in prisons.
"Congress has promised to amend the Code of Criminal procedure. Rahul Gandhi is saying that everyone should get bail. I want to ask him, is it your effort to save your corrupt people like Karti Chidambaram?" Shah asked. In its manifesto, Congress dwelt on amending the Code of Criminal Procedure and promised to release immediately all remand and under trial prisoners facing charges punishable with imprisonment of three years or less.
Shah also hit out at National Conference leader Omar Abdullah for his "Prime Minister for Jammu and Kashmir" line and asked the people whether they supported the Kashmir leader's remarks. "Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India, we will never compromise on the Kashmir issue," he said.
The BJP chief demanded that Congress president Rahul Gandhi make it clear to the people if he concurred with Omar Abdullah. He expressed confidence that Modi would again become the Prime Minister and that the new government too would work for Tamil Nadu's growth alongside the State government.
About the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act
Apart from Jammu and Kashmir, the AFSPA Act is applicable in Nagaland and Manipur and some parts of north-eastern states. According to The Disturbed Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1976, once declared 'disturbed', an area has to maintain the status quo for a minimum of three months.
Under AFSPA, the armed forces are given powers to arrest, use force and even open fire on anyone who violate the law. But over the years, civilians have levelled allegations of army excesses in the insurgency-hit areas.
Human right groups have been demanding the scrapping of the AFSPA act, claiming the law gives "sweeping powers" to the soldiers to act against civilians. Activists have also alleged extra-judicial killings in those areas where AFSPA is in force.
Notably, renowned Manipuri activist Irom Sharmila launched an indefinite fast for 16 years (2000-2016) in protest against the controversial act.
(With inputs from agencies)
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