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Amendments to AFSPA pending, says Chidambaram

Saturday March 31, 2012 08:25:48 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: A day after the United Nations Special Rapporteur asked India to repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, Home Minister P. Chidambaram Saturday said his ministry has sought amendments in the AFSPA which were pending before the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).

"These pertain to three sections in the AFSPA and it is pending before the CCS," Chidambaram said when asked about the comments made by the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Christof Heyns.

Chidambaram said the report of the UN Rapporteur was both negative and positive.

"The rapporteur has praised the openness and willingness of the government of India to engage, shown also by the fact that there it was willing to host a mission dealing with the right to life, an area in which issues to be tackled are often complex in various countries," he said.

He stressed that the UN Rapporteur had made "some positive statements".

"Yes, we take note of the view but that's not a novel view as there are a number of people who have expressed the same view and there are others who have a contrary view, which is why the issue remains unresolved," he said.

"After considering the Justice Jeevan Reddy report and all other reports, the view of the ministry of home affairs is that three amendments should be made to the AFSPA," he said without elaborating on the proposed amendments.

The amendments, according to sources, relate to taking arrests warrants in advance, taking away the power of the armed forces to open fire causing death and setting up of a grievance redressal cell.

Stressing that a law such as AFSPA has no role to play in a democracy, Heynes describing the AFSPA, which has been in force in Jammu and Kashmir and some parts of northeastern states, as a symbol of "excessive state power".

The repeal of this law, he said, will not only "bring domestic law more in line with international; standards, but also send out a powerful message that instead of a military approach, the government is committed to respect for the right to life of all people in the country under a ordinary law and order and human rights dispensation".

Indian authorities deny violations of human rights and say that the legislation is necessary to wipe out insurgents.

Heyns put together his report after numerous testimonies from families of victims who had been killed in alleged arbitrary executions by security forces.

After a 12-day fact-finding visit, Heyns also backed the Indian government's stand on the Maoists and condemned deadly violence unleashed by the rebels. He will submit a report of his findings to the UN Human Rights Council next year.

"Deadly violence has been used by Maoists, insurgents and terrorists in India. The callous nature in which lives, often of innocent civilians, are taken by these non-state actors, need to be condemned strongly," Heyns told reporters here.

"The state has a right to defend itself against such aggression, provided, of course, it abides by the international standards in this regard. The state cannot adopt unlawful or unconstitutional means or create a vigilante force to counter such violence," he said.





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