GUWAHATI, March 12 � �Since the year 2000, over 10,000 people have been killed in North East and over 30,000 have been arrested by the Army and yet Assam does not talk about it. There is a deafening and disturbing silence. Is it that people in Assam are complicit with the system? Is it because they are the beneficiaries of the status quo? Why is this mysterious silence? I have no answer and I am at a loss to give any explanation� said RN Ravi, retired IB chief of North East region, while talking at a consultation organised jointly by the North Eastern Social Research Centre (NESRC) and Legal Cell for Human Rights (LCHR), here, this was stated in a press release issued by North Eastern Social Research Centre.
�The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) is needed in warlike situations, where Army can act aggressively, violently and brutally, and yet need not be accountable. Does such a situation exist in North East India?� he quipped.
Insisting that AFSPA should be repealed, he said that it breeds a culture of impunity on the part of the armed forces and a culture of acquiescence on the part of society. People of Assam, especially its elite, have cultivated gradual tolerance towards actions of the Army thus creating a culture of acquiescence, he said.
He also talked about the nexus between the Government of Assam and militants. The militancy is sustained by the government, because it is to its advantage. When the militancy reaches below the threshold level, the government goes to the extent of financing the militants. He also cautioned that the atmosphere of impunity is dangerous for the health of society. It creates an atmosphere of comprehensive regression, he said and gave a clarion call to the participants of the consultation to talk and act louder and longer with sustained efforts until the AFSPA is lifted from North East India.
Earlier, Dr Melvil Pereira, director of NESRC, in his introductory remark, mentioned that in a democratic country like India no one is above the law, yet the AFSPA gives immunity to the Army, thus keeping them beyond the reach of law. This is a mockery of democratic values, he said and lamented the culture of impunity that give a freehand to the army to commit wanton atrocities.
Babloo Loitongbam, director of Human Rights Alert, Imphal, who has been spearheading the movement in Manipur, lamented that the AFSPA has given a free license to Army personnel to commit atrocities. �They work with a mentality of �It is OK to kill people and rape women,� he said. According to him, sanction to kill is not constitutional. Section 4 of AFSPA is unconstitutional and Section 6, which protects the armed forces from prosecution, has to be removed.
According to Loitongbam, even if there is an armed conflict, there is no place for inhuman laws like AFSPA in a civilized society. Raising the pitch for repeal of this draconian law, he said, �If one�s blood does not curdle when one hears the atrocities in North East India under the cover of AFSPA, one is a moron, not a human being.�
The consultation brought together representatives of bodies like NESO, AMSU and a host of students of various Law Colleges of Guwahati to engage with the fallout of AFSPA.
March 8 being the Women�s Day, an entire session was dedicated to listen to the heroic stories and heart rending testimonies of women especially from Manipur, the release added.