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Khasi students oppose armed forces' special powers

Monday April 25, 2011 08:53:49 PM, IANS

Shillong: The influential Khasi Students Union (KSU) in Meghalaya took out a candle light procession here Monday to demand repeal of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

The student activists also extended their support to Irom Sharmila Chanu, a rights activist who has been on hunger strike for nearly a decade in Manipur, demanding the withdrawal of the APSPA from the state.

"We demanded the withdrawal of the AFSPA from whole of the region (northeastern states) as it infringes on the democratic rights of the people and human rights," KSU leader Hamletson Dohling told IANS.

Dohling said the candle-light procession is to pressurise the central government to accept the demand of the people who are opposing it.

The Meghalaya government has not enforced the act in the state since its creation in 1972. However, the central government has imposed the "draconian law" within 20 km corridor along the border with Assam which is declared as "disturbed area" under section 3 of the act.

Rights activists say that the AFSPA, which is enforced in Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Tripura, Assam and Nagaland, gives the armed forces authority to kill or detain terror suspects in insurgency-prone areas.

However, military officials here maintain that the AFSPA is an enabling law not an arbitrary one.

"It is up to the centre and states to enforce or repeal or modify the act. But I want to make it clear that it is the state and centre which empower us with this legislation," a military official said.

Earlier, Meghalaya Governor R.S Mooshahary, who favours repeal of the AFSPA in the region, has said that its prolonged use has alienated the civil society.

"We cannot contain insurgency related violence by alienating the citizens. We can do so more effectively by involving them," Mooshahary, a former National Security Guards chief, had said.

The central government has named a five-member committee headed by Supreme Court Justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy to study if the act was required or not.

After visiting all affected states, the committee submitted its report to the central government in October 2006.





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