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Review AFSPA, modernise armed forces: Congress manifesto on India's security situation

The Congress manifesto has been questioned for the promise of reviewing AFSPA and for the assurance that armed and paramilitary forces would be reduced in J&K.

Review AFSPA, modernise armed forces: Congress manifesto on India's security situation
Reuters Photo

New Delhi: Congress on Tuesday released a 55-page manifesto titled 'Congress Will Deliver' ahead of Lok Sabha 2019 election. In it, the party made a long list of promises with focus on farmers, youth and economic development. It also made a number of promises in relation to the national security of the country.

One of the key promises made by the party was that it would modernise the armed forces if voted to power. "Congress will reverse the trend of declining defence spending under the NDA government, and increase it to meet the requirements of the Armed Forces," reads the manifesto. " We will expedite all modernisation programmes of the Armed Forces in a transparent manner. We will improve social security, education and health facilities for our Paramilitary Forces and families."

Controversially, the manifesto also says that Congress would review the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). AFSPA gives special powers to the Army and central forces deployed in "disturbed areas" to kill anyone acting in contravention of law, arrest and search any premises without a warrant and provide cover to forces from prosecution and legal suits without the Central government's sanction.

While those in favour of AFSPA have already begun questioning Congress, some accusing it of trying to undermine India's armed forces, the party has also assured that it would start unconditional talks for peace in Jammu and Kashmir and that armed and paramilitary forces would be reduced in the state while more cops would be deployed. The manifesto also assured that no changes would be made to J&K's constitutional position and that three interlocutors from civil society would be appointed for talks for peace.