The AFSPA and
After-effects of the Act
This Term Paper / Assignment / Project has been submitted by
Ms. Aishwaria S Iyer
ID No: 212034
On Sociology II
During the Winter Semester 2012 -13
Everyone knows 9/11 as the day of the infamous airplane crash that brought down the twin towers in New York, destroying thousands of lives all at once. Few however, realise that the date is ominous for Indians in a different way. It is the date when The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act or AFSPA, was passed, way back in 1958, much before the 2001 attacks. Although the effects of this act were not instantaneous, the consequences of the same have been disastrous and have led to a complete destruction of the lives of the people of North East India, where the brunt the effects have been, and still are being, faced especially by the women of the region. In this project, questions of what AFSPA is, why it was passed, its provisions, effects and how the women in Manipur are fighting it. There is also a short description of Irom Sharmila’s Fight for the repeal of the AFSPA.
II. Background of Women’s movement as a social movement in Manipur There is a long history of social movements led by women in Manipur. The non-tribal Meitei women of Manipur have a long and established tradition of agitations for social reforms or against administrative oppressions. This significant role dates back to ancient times, where it was practice to first send a contingent of women to report any injustice to the ruler. The mistake was ordinarily corrected. This tradition has continued and has materialised today as a continued struggle for the repeal of the AFSPA.
III. What is The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act?
According to the text of the statute, the AFSPA is, “An Act to enable certain special powers to be conferred upon members of the armed forces in disturbed areas in the State of *[Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura].” The seven states of the north east have seen a history of insurgency. The AFSPA was introduced to quell the rising insurgency and maintain normalcy in the states. What the Government failed to realise is that the Act caused more rebellion than control it, especially because of the way it has been drafted.
IV. Provisions of The Act
The Act seems to be very incomplete in its drafting. For instance, section 2 supposedly sets out definitions, but leaves much undefined. Section 2 (a) defines what armed forces means and it extends the definition to military forces and air forces on land. Section 2 (b) defines “disturbed area” as an area declared under clause 3 by the Governor of the state. It does not state what the requirements are for an area to be declared “disturbed”, simply that if the Governor is convinced, he can declare it so. This is a very arbitrary definition and the power granted through this can be misused. “The vagueness of this definition was challenged in Indrajit Barua v. State of Assam case. The court decided that the lack of precision to the definition of a disturbed area was not an issue because the government and people of India understand its meaning. However, since the declaration depends on the satisfaction of the Government official, the declaration that an area is disturbed is not subject to judicial review.” Section 4 sets out the powers of the military officers under this act one of them being, he is allowed to fire upon any person he suspects is acting in contravention of the law of the “disturbed area” and may even cause the death of such person. Section 5 lays down that the arrested person be handed over to the nearest police station with the least possible delay. However, no time limit is specified. Section 6, possibly the most draconian of the lot, gives immunity to the soldiers for all their acts, unless their prosecution is pre-approved by the Central Government.
V. The Effects
The act has had...
Bibliography: 2) Collins’ Dictionary of Sociology – D Jary & J Jary (eds.) (HarperCollins Publishers, 1995)
[ 3 ]. L. Ibungohol Singh, An Introduction to Manipur (Imphal 1960) 34-47
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[ 8 ]. Jogendro Ksetrimayum, ‘Shooting the Sun: A Story of Death and Protest in Manipur’ Economic and Political Weekly (Vol 44, No. 40, October 3-9, 2009) accessed 11 March 2013
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