Wednesday, December 3, 2014

FP article on the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act

Foreign Policy has this story by Betwa Sharma about the impunity facilitated by the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in Kashmir. Excerpt:
. . . For decades, the pursuit of justice for crimes allegedly committed by the military has been a futile pursuit for many Kashmiris. In part, this is because of a 56-year-old law that allows security personnel in "disturbed areas" -- a broadly defined term that generally refers to any place facing unrest -- to "fire upon or otherwise use force, even to the causing of death" to maintain public order. The law, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), gives state or federal officials the authority to deem an area disturbed. After making such a declaration, they can then order the use of armed force to protect civilians against militants. AFSPA also protects military personnel from prosecution or legal proceedings without the permission of the central government.
Enacted in 1958 in response to the secessionist rebellions in the northeastern state of Assam, AFSPA was not enforced in Kashmir until 1990 -- three years after New Delhi rigged state elections there, sparking a separatist uprising.
*  *  * 
Retired Lt. Gen. Baljit Singh Jaswal, who led the Indian army in the region from October 2009 to December 2010, said in a Nov. 12 interview that AFSPA remains a necessary tool for India to fight the proxy war he says Pakistan unleashed in the region. "The intention of Pakistan to continue that proxy war has not changed," he argued. "So why should the law be changed?" But the law has arguably made soldiers there more prone to violence, a worrying prospect in a restive region perpetually on the brink of bloodshed.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are subject to moderation and must be submitted under your real name. Anonymous comments will not be posted (even though the form seems to permit them).