SHILLONG, Jan 23 – Meghalaya Governor Ranjit Shekhar Mooshahary has suggested that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) must be replaced with an amended Code of Criminal Procedure or CrPC, so that both security forces and civilian rights are protected under a single Act.
Mooshahary, a former chief of the National Security Guard and Border Security Force, has been a constant advocate for repeal of the controversial Act, which protects the rights of the security forces in areas of conflict during operations by giving sweeping powers.
“The AFSPA should be revoked and instead the CrPC must be amended suitably with relevant provisions for protection of the rights of the security forces together with those of the civilians,” Mooshahary suggested.
His point of view was that if the CrPC is amended it would not be an isolated Act only for the civilians, but also be dealing with the rights of the security forces. “In the amended Act the rights of the security forces as well as the civilians can be adequately taken care of,” he said.
There has been constant protests against AFSPA, which is applied in areas of conflict or “disturbed areas” such as Manipur, Kashmir and others. Some Government instituted committees like the Jeevan Reddy Committee, the Administrative Reforms Commission headed by Veerapa Moily have also recommended that the Act must be reviewed.
There has been a huge outcry against the Act, especially in Manipur and Irom Sharmila, an activist from the State, has been on a hunger strike for many years. However, the Central Government has been reluctant to repeal the Act, arguing that it is not the right time to do so in the areas where it is being applied currently.
The security forces also vouch by the Act, saying the rights of its personnel is protected and once it is repealed they would be vulnerable in the case of collateral damages, which at times is unavoidable in a conflict situation.
“AFSPA represents the face of the security force, but the CrPC is not. So it needs to be replaced with some Act that is both for the civilians and the armed forces,” the Governor added.