Replacing AFSPA with more humane law under govt consideration

Itanagar: Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Friday said that recommendations of two panels on replacing the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, in force in some northeastern states, with a more humane law would soon be placed before the Cabinet.

Talking to reporters after an over two-hour meeting with army and security officials in this Arunachal Pradesh capital, Chidamabaram said the recommendations of the Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee and the Second Administrative Reform Commission for replacing AFSPA would soon be placed before the government.

He said provisions of the ceasefire agreement with NSCN factions in Nagaland did not apply to militancy-affected districts of Tirap and Changlang in Arunachal and security forces would act if ultras from Nagaland and Assam were found to be active there.

Asked about the Centre's stand not to press for ADB or World Bank for loans for watershed projects in Arunachal Pradesh following objections raised by China, which considers the state as its territory, Chidambaram said "If we need loans from ADB and WB we will seek them. But, if we don't need them, we will not seek them. After all they are loans, not grants.

"I can assure you that projects in Arunachal Pradesh will not suffer for want of funds."

Asked about the strategy against militants in the northeast who were using Arunachal Pradesh forests as a corridor to their bases across the Myanmar border, he shot back "We can't discuss strategy and tactics against militants at a press conference. Whatever needs to be done will be done. Decisions have been taken, but you can't expect us to divulge them."

On steps are being taken to seal the Myanmar border to thwart attempts by militants to cross over from camps in Myanmar, Chidambaram retorted "What do you mean by sealing? Are we waiting with some wax to seal the border?"

Replying to another question on demands for renaming the Rajiv Gandhi Central University incorporating the name of the state, which required a constitutional amendment, Chidambaram said he had received a representation and would pass it on to the ministry concerned.

On the inter-state boundary dispute between Assam and Arunachal, he said "a new judge Tarun Chatterjee has taken over as chairman of the Boundary Commission and we will act after it submits its report."