Imphal, Feb. 6: Prolonged imposition of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in Manipur has had an adverse effect as far as children’s right to education is concerned, a “people’s review” report on performance of state governments under millennium development goals has said.
The review was carried out in nine states under the Wada Na Todo Abhiyan (Don’t break the promise campaign) by civil society bodies of the respective states. The report was released yesterday.
In Manipur, the review was carried out by five civil society bodies — Community Network for Empowerment, Human Rights Alert, Human Rights Law Network, Manipur Alliance for Child Rights, Sustainable Livelihood Forum-Manipur and Untied Voluntary Youth Council.
“Prolonged imposition of AFSPA has infringed upon children’s rights to education and the criminal justice system because child rights cannot be separately protected while the rights of adults who are supposed to protect their children are blatantly violated,” the report said.
The presence of armed forces personnel in large numbers inhibits free practice of civil and political rights, the report said.
It said there were military intrusions in educational institutions and security forces for their strategic convenience had occupied various educational institutions.
The indefinite strikes and economic blockades that force the prolonged closure of institutions also hinder education.
There has been a little improvement though, 3,66,372 children were in primary schools and 1,41,692 children were in upper primary last year, an increase of 0.7 per cent and 1.32 per cent respectively in comparison to the previous year, the report said.
Many factors are associated with children dropping out of school. Acute poverty is one of them. Manipur has the highest percentage people living below the poverty line in the Northeast — 47.1 per cent.
The report recommended that issues of conflict orphans, conflict widows, children of HIV/AIDS patients should be taken into consideration while planning strategies to ensure qualitative and quantitative right to education of the child along with livelihood and life skill education.
Executive director of Human Rights Alert Babloo Loitongbam said the review was conducted to know the gap between the promises and commitments made by state governments and actual implementation of the commitments and to what extent people were benefited.
He said the report, which contained a series of recommendations for the government to implement, would be submitted to state governments and also to the UN so that the international body took note of India’s national development goals and actual position on the ground.
Ibobi wants review
Ibobi Singh has indicated that he favoured amending the army act according to the Justice J.S Verma panel’s recommendations.
The three-member Verma panel recommended that all armed forces, paramilitary and police forces deployed in conflict areas should be tried under ordinary law and in ordinary courts in case of sexual crimes. Currently, they enjoy immunity under the army act.
Asked if he, like J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah, was in favour of the Justice Verma panel’s suggestion, Singh told reporters: “Why not, we are also part of India.”