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