‘Change in AFSPA only after consulting everybody’

The govt Thursday said that any change in the AFSPA will be done only after proper consultations.

New Delhi: Amid demands for scrapping of the
controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Home
Minister P Chidambaram Thursday said his ministry has proposed
amendments to it but these could be effected only after
consultations with all concerned.

He also ruled out division of Manipur as demanded by some Naga groups on the ground that pluralistic character of states cannot be wished away, but said efforts are being made to ensure "honour, dignity and equal rights" of the Nagas within the Constitution.

Replying to a Calling Attention Motion in the Lok Sabha on the economic blockade enforced by Naga groups in Manipur, Chidambaram said the government will not spare any effort to ensure adequate supply of essential commodities.

Responding to demands from some members for scrapping of AFSPA which is in force in Jammu and Kashmir and some parts of Manipur, he said the issue was "difficult".

He said the Home Ministry has proposed amendments to the Act but "we have to have consultations with everybody before amendments are made."

On the situation in Manipur, he said the violence this year was the lowest in a decade, which is an "achievement" of the UPA government.

The violence in Manipur has dropped by about 90 per cent, he said, while noting that 466 civilians were killed in 2008, 264 in 2009 and only 47 till July this year.

Referring to the demands of NSCN(IM) for a greater Nagaland by merging parts of Manipur, the Home Minister said, "every state in India is pluralistic. We can`t wish way this fact. Nagas are there in Manipur, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh. It will be inconceivable that we break up the states."

He asserted there was "no question of altering the integrity of the state of Manipur. Naga areas under Manipur will remain part of the state."

Chidambaram said efforts are underway to resolve the issues concerning the Naga Autonomous District Councils.
For the "larger problem" related to Nagaland, Chidambaram said the Centre`s interlocutor R S Pandey has been holding talks which has made progress.

He said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had also received a delegation of Naga leaders.

Moving the Motion, Bijoya Chakravorty (BJP) demanded dismissal of the Manipur government and scrapping of AFSPA but was opposed by Thokchom Meinya (Cong).

Bureau Report

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