RTI Act gives hope to anti-AFSPA protestors in Manipur

RTI Act gives hope to anti-AFSPA protestors in Manipur

IMPHAL: Many people are fasting for five days (13-17 September) in Keishampat junction, Imphal, Manipur, to lobby more support to Irom Chanu Sharmila, who has been fasting since past 7 years, demanding to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

They declared today that an application under the Right to Information Act (RTI) shall be filed in Prime Minister’s office (PMO) to help the cause. Delhi-based RTI activist Suchi Pandey shall file the application.

The reports of Jeevan Reddy Commission 2004 and Veerappa Moily Administrative Reforms Committee earlier haven’t been made public, and RTI application shall be filed in PMO demanding information related to the status of these two reports and actions taken on the recommendations, said Magsaysay Awardee Dr Sandeep Pandey.

It is understood that these two reports supported the demand to repeal the AFSPA that had led to gross violations of human rights by Indian troops in the conflict ridden region.

The launch of this five days solidarity fast came two days after the ‘Apunba Lup’ observed Anti-army Act Day on September 11 here to mark the completion of five decades of the act in the North-East. The present UPA Government had constituted the Justice Jeevan Reddy Commission in 2004 to review AFSPA in response to an intensive campaign led by ‘Apunba Lup’.

“It is not only the North-East region but the human rights violations are going on in almost every place of India. Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of encounter killings in the country, but there is no draconian law like the AFSPA there. The Government of India is biased against North-East and J&K in this aspect” lambasted Dr Pandey, who also heads NAPM (National Alliance of People’s Movements) and Asha Parivar.

“Prolonged imposition of the Act has hampered all developmental fronts. Because of the large-scale violation of human rights including extra judicial killings, atrocities and raping of women and girls by the security personnel with immunity granted under the Act, the people of the North eastern region are becoming more and more alienated from the mainstream India” said Biju Borbaruah, another NAPM activist from N-E India.
Biju further observed that the people of North-East want peace and development but have been compelled to join the unrelenting protest against the oppressive Act.

Talking about the separatist movement in the north-eastern region, Dr Pandey said: “Continuous presence of military in this region will have a severe impact on the people. If this process goes on, the Northeast will soon become militarized state. Whatever form of Naxalism, separatism and terrorism exists, the only way to solve is by political solution. It is up to the people of the region to find out an amicable solution. What the local people want should be respected. The Government will facilitate talks. I think dialogue is the only way to solve the insurgency. Militarisation will never solve the issue.”

Sharmila had gone on hunger strike on November 2, 2000 demanding the repeal of the AFSPA, after soldiers of the Assam Rifles allegedly killed ten young Meitei men in Malom. Three days later, police arrested Sharmila on charges of attempted suicide. To keep her alive, she was forcefully fed a cocktail of vitamins, minerals, laxatives, protein supplements and lentil soup through the nose with a rubber pipe.

Hundreds others from different countries in the world have signed up on www.ashaparivar.org to fast for varying durations from September 13 to support the demands of 'Iron lady' from Manipur – Irom Sharmila.