Khaidem Mani was speaking as chief guest at Invisible 9/11 commemorating the 63rd Anniversary of President of India giving assent to Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 organised by by AMKIL at All Manipur Students’ Union (AMSU)’s Multipurpose Hall in Dhanamanjuri University (DMU) campus.
TFM News Service
“Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act was enacted to suppress and curb insurgencies. However, it furthered the armed movements. Excess of security forces under this Act has pushed many to join insurgency,” said Manipur Human Rights Commission (MHRC) acting chairperson Khaidem Mani.
He was speaking as chief guest at Invisible 9/11 commemorating the 63rd Anniversary of President of India giving assent to Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 organised by by Apunba Manipur Kanba Ima Lup (AMKIL) at All Manipur Students’ Union (AMSU)’s Multipurpose Hall in Dhanamanjuri University (DMU) campus.
Khaidem Mani said people believe that the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958 was enforced in Manipur to control the armed movements in the state. However, in reality, AFSPA is aiding in the multiplication of militants. He asked the gathering to study whether his inference is true or not. Under this Act, security personnel had killed many persons, tortured many innocent persons on mere suspicion of being militants, driving many to the edge. As per the Supreme Court, if insurgency is to be controlled, President Rule should be imposed under articles 352, 353, 354 not the AFSPA which is an Act to be enforced in order to restrain rebellion from outside the country, he added.
Demanding revocation of AFSPA from Manipur, mothers and civil society organizations have launched a movement. In 2004, mothers staged naked protest in front of Kangla demanding removal of AFSPA following the brutal murder of Thangjam Manorama by central paramilitary forces. As a result, AFSPA was revoked from seven segments in Greater Imphal areas, he added.
He further said under this draconian AFSPA, security forces indulged in extra-judicial killings. The central government paid no heed to the demands for revocation of AFSPA from Manipur by CSOs. AFSPA remained still in force. He suggested CSOs adopt democratic form of agitation to press the government for revocation of AFSPA. As acting chairperson of MHRC, he had even submitted representation for withdrawal of AFSPA to protect the masses from rights violations, he said.
As an Indian citizen, there is no illegality in staging protests in democratic ways. Time is ripe for India to do away with many archaic laws and British-era Act so that people of Manipur can enjoy equal rights with other Indian citizens. Stating that electing the right person who thinks for the masses holds the key to resolving issues facing people, he urged people to elect non-corrupt leaders who will serve people.
Joining the event virtually, historian and author of India’s War on Democracy: The Debate on AFSPA-1958 Dr Malem Ningthouja said AFSPA impinged upon constitutional rights. As AFSPA can be withdrawn and imposed in a region, the political angle of this Act cannot be ignored. Political character of AFSPA is the imposition of the act in regions where there are armed movements and suppression of them, he added. It is being used to suppress all the people’s voices, including that of CSOs against controversial projects, he added.
He further said movement against AFSPA cannot be succeeded till today. He attributed it to AFSPA victims’ fear to come out in the open, lack of coordination among CSOs, emergence of multiple issues at a time before one issue is resolved. Lamenting that there is no united movement due to ideological disunity, he said a strong movement is required for the revocation of the draconian Act.
Guest of honour and AMSU president Haobijam Chalamba said since the annexation of Manipur to India in 1949, the situation of Manipur has been worsening. The government of India claimed that armed movements in the state have been under control and the situation has improved. However, the government has refused to withdraw the AFSPA from the state, he added. He wondered whether this is a hidden agenda behind the decision. It is a setback for Manipur that no MLA/Minister can raise a strong voice against AFSPA till date, he said. He called for a united movement against the AFSPA.