GUWAHATI: After the Congress-led government in Imphal failed to deliver on its poll promise to get the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) scrapped in Manipur, more than 3,000 schoolchildren from the state have sent postcards to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to repeal the alleged draconian law.
“…We urge you to make a commitment to ensure a world that is equal, just and secure for the people of Manipur as well as the world. And as an indication of the commitment, please repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and save democracy in India,” the children wrote.
The missive to the Prime Minister was part of the Mobilisation of the Global Campaign of Action, 2015.
“We all know that the AFSPA is not the solution. So, the children expressed their desire to the Prime Minister for an AFSPA-free Manipur,” activist Babloo Loitongbam of rights body Human Rights Alert told Express. The demand for repealing the Act in Manipur grew louder following its recent revocation in Tripura. Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said his government decided to withdraw the Act in view of a significant improvement in the law and order situation. The Act in the Left-ruled state was enforced in 1997 in the wake of a series of violent acts carried out by the militants.
Loitongbam said the Manipur government was averse to the Act’s withdrawal due to the vested interests.
“The Manipur government is corrupt. It wants the state to continue to wear the ‘disturbed area’ tag and the AFSPA to stay as that will ensure the uninterrupted flow of funds from the Centre on the law and order front,” he said.
Bowing to pressure, the state government had in 2004 withdrew the Act from seven Assembly constituencies falling under Imphal Municipal area. It continues to remain in force in other parts of the state, despite incidents of alleged extra-judicial killings of civilians.
Manipur’s ‘Iron Lady’ Irom Sharmila Chanu has been on a hunger strike since 2000 demanding the repeal of the Act.