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All eyes on SC for army act repeal

- Hearings in January

Imphal, Dec. 14: Citizens’ groups in Manipur who want the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act repealed have pinned their hopes on the Supreme Court, which is currently hearing two petitions — one related to the army act and another related to extra-judicial killings.

The first petition seeks a directive from the court to the Centre and the Manipur government to repeal the army act. The second seeks the formation of a special investigation team to probe alleged fake encounter killings in Manipur.

A leading rights group — United NGO Mission, Manipur — today urged the Supreme Court not to repeat its 1997 ruling where the apex court settled a case after issuing dos and don’ts for the armed forces while operating under the act.

The apex court has fixed January 4 as the date of the next hearing.

“We urge the government of India not to repeat the 1997 judgment that was passed in the case filed by the Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights,” U. Nobokishore, secretary of the Untied NGO Mission, Manipur, told reporters.

Investigations should be launched and legal action should be taken against the perpetrators of atrocities, he said.He also urged the Centre to repeal the act and start political dialogues with the militants for political settlement in order to bring long-term and sustainable peace in Manipur.

Rights groups in Manipur argued that the imposition of the act since 1958 in the Northeast had failed to control armed militancy.

“The number of militant groups is rising despite the existence of the act. At that time (in 1958) there was only one militant group in the whole of Northeast. Now there are nearly 40 militant groups in Manipur alone,” Nobokishore said.

According to the recommendations of the Justice Jeevan Reddy Commission (2005) and Administrative Reforms Commission (2007), the Centre should repeal the act, he added.

Imposition of the army act in the Northeast in the context of India’s democratic process was allowing creating a state within the state, because there was military rule in the Northeast under the army act.

The United NGO Mission has started consultations among people to step up the campaign and create awareness that imposition of the act in the Northeast was “racist” in nature by organising consultations on “Rights of indigenous people and Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act” here today.

Nobokishore said the demands made by the NGO would be sent in the form of representations to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and Manipur chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh.


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