IMPHAL, Jan 2 – Ahead of the Supreme Court hearing on Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA)1958, women bodies in Manipur in association with a widow forum staged a protest rally demanding the repeal of the controversial Act from the State.The rally which was organised by Village Women Coordinating Committee (VWCOC), Conflict Widow Forum (COWF) and Applied Biotech Farmer Club, began from Yurembam village and passed through the main streets of Imphal West district before converging at Salam village where leaders called for examining the imposition of AFSPA in the North East in the context of India’s democratic process. The rally observed that the Act is allowing to create a space of State within the State. It further urged for repeal of AFSPA from the region.
“We urge the government not to repeat the experience of the Supreme Court judgment on AFSPA in 1997 by developing Dos and Don’ts after the case filed by Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights,” a joint statement of the women bodies said. India should not forget that people in Manipur want social, economic and political justice”, it added.
“We further urge the Government of India to repeal AFSPA and start a political dialogue with the armed political organisations for long term sustainable peace and political settlement in Manipur”, it demanded.
It is worth mentioning that a hearing is scheduled in Supreme Court on January 4 on a PIL filed by one Dr Th Suresh Singh and two civil rights bodies – Human Rights Alert and Extra-Judicial Execution Victim Families Association Manipur for the withdrawal of AFSPA from Manipur.
Manipur has been in turmoil from time to time demanding the repeal of AFSPA. The killing of Thangjam Manorama by the personnel of Assam Rifles in 2004 had prompted the people of Manipur to rise up against the Act. Iron Lady Irom Chanu Sharmila has been on a fast unto death agitation since 2000 demanding the repeal of AFSPA.