A one day workshop on Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 was organized by Borok Peoples Human Rights (BPHRO), Human Rights Alert (HRA) and North East Dialogue Forum (NEDF) at Geetanjali Tourist Guest House, State Guest House Complex, Kunjaban, Agartala on 21st June 2012. The workshop was attended by key indigenous political parties, lawyers, academia, media persons, students union, womens groups, human rights defenders and other civil society groups.
Babloo Loitongbam, Executive Director of HRA, in his keynote address presented the overview of the long struggle by the civil society though democratic as well as legal processes to repeal AFSPA. He apprised the group with the recent recommendations by the working group on Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council -- Slovakia, Switzerland and France calling for repeal and Norway and UK making indirect reference on AFSPA. Government of India is to respondthese recommendations by September this year.
Senior politician and general secretary of the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura Mr. Jagdish Debbarma pointed out that this year only one extremist related incident is reported and not a single civilian death so far, the Chief Minster has repeatedly claimed that Tripura is a peaceful State. However, contrary to the claim made by the Chief Minster there are yet 36 police stations where the indigenous person resides are still declared as disturbed area under AFSPA. This clearly illustrates that AFSPA is used as an instrument of racist subjugation on the indigenous peoples and not for fighting the extremist!
Eminent journalist Subir Bhaumik, Chief Editor of Seven Sisters Post, moaned the lack of a counter insurgency doctrine amongst the Indian Army and pointed out that the war should be about winning the hearts and minds of the people and cannot be an exercise of area domination. He called for repeal of AFSPA and to establish a new legal order by implementing the recommendations of the Jeevan Reddy Committee.
Representing the voice of the academia,Dr. RK Debbarma, probed how a liberal democratic country like India can sustain AFSPA. Though various experiences, he pointed out that it is the social and political process of othering the people of the North East. He, therefore, asserted that the struggle against AFSPA should also be at the level of Indias imagination of itself.
Strategies to the role of political parties, students union, media and legal fraternity and other civil society were deliberated in groups and Hebal Abel Koloy, Chairman, BPHRO spelled out a common strategy for Tripura. The workshop concluded with Lilypar Hrangkhawl of the Borok Womens Forum proposing a vote and a group photo.
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