31 years on, AFSPA still a poll issue in Manipur
Imphal: Three decades after it was imposed
in Manipur to deal with insurgents, the controversial Armed
Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) is still an issue used by
parties during electioneering for the January 28 Assembly poll
in the state.
While parties like the BJP and NCP are in favour of
creating an atmosphere for removing the AFSPA, CPI(M) and
Manipur People's Party (MPP), the oldest regional party of the
state, were for outright removal of the Act.
The ruling Congress, however, was yet to declare its
views on the Act which was imposed in Manipur in September,
1980 when insurgent activities were at its peak in the state.
While releasing the party manifesto, NCP general
secretary P A Sangma had said his party would create an
atmosphere for removal of the Act if his party came to power.
NCP would raise the issue during campaigning, he said.
The BJP too has said in its manifesto that it would
create an atmosphere and bring law and order situation to
normalcy so that the AFSPA would be no longer necessary.
Leaders of the Congress were tight-lipped about its
position on the act, saying the state unit was in consultation
with the High Command to bring out its manifesto.
A spokesman of the Manipur People's Party (MPP), which
had ruled the state twice, said the party would work for
removal of the Act from the state if it came to power.
Asked why they did not remove the Act when it was in
power, the spokesman said the situation was different then.
CPI(M) politburo member Brinda Karat said her party
was against continuation of AFSPA in Manipur but major ruling
parties have been playing delaying tactics over the issue.
AFSPA would not bring any solution and instead it would
prolong the problem, she said, adding it was now time for the
government both at the Centre and state to act.
Various other political parties, which were yet to come
out of their manifestos, said they would raise the AFSPA issue
in their campaigns.
Social activist Irom Sharmila has been on a fast for over
10 years demanding withdrawal of the Act from the state after
Assam Rifles personnel killed ten persons in an 'encounter'
with unknown militants at Imphal Airport area in 2000.
Sharmila has been force fed through a tube.
Civil society organisations have also been demanding
withdrawal of the Act from the state.