Imphal, Sept. 11: Citizens’ groups of Manipur reaffirmed the pledge to continue the struggle to scrap the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act on the birthday of the law.
Parliament passed the Armed Forces Bill in August 1958, on the lines of an ordinance promulgated by the then British government and the President gave his assent to the bill on this day the same year.
The act was enforced in the northeastern states and Jammu and Kashmir to tackle militancy.
It was later enforced in the Manipur hills in 1961 and in 1980, the entire state was brought under the act.
Sharmila Kanba Lup, a conglomerate of Irom Sharmila support groups, organised a programme here today to mark the day and remind the people of the “sufferings” brought about by the act.
Led by women, the organisations launched the struggle against the act after CRPF personnel killed four civilians, including a pregnant woman, at Patsoi of Imphal West on April 26, 1980, after militants shot dead three CRPF jawans.
Rights defenders recalled the excesses committed by the armed forces and how they escaped punishment under the blanket cover of the act.
Sharmila is completing 12 years of her fast, demanding repeal of the act, in November.
She began her fast in 2000, after troops of the Assam Rifles shot dead 10 civilians at Malom near Imphal airport in retaliation to a militant attack.
The Administrative Reforms Committee and Justice Jeevan Reddy Commission recommended the repeal of the act. New Delhi is yet to act on the recommendations.
However, the groups have not given up hope that one day the Centre will listen to the voices of the people and other countries.
“Other countries are mounting pressure on India to repeal the act. It may take time but one day India’s image as the largest democratic country will be at stake and accordingly it will act,” Irom Shinghajit, Sharmila’s elder brother, said.
He called upon the people of the Northeast to come together and have a joint fight to end rights violations.
The UN Human Rights Council Working Group adopted its report on India’s human rights record, recommending repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.
The recommendations were made by the 13th session of the Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review Working Group held in Geneva from May 21.
Giving her keynote address, Th. Ramani, who has been taking part in the struggle against the act since the beginning, said it had been 32 years and the people of Manipur would not rest till the act was scrapped.
Senior citizens, leaders of rights groups and intellectuals took part in the programme.