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Northeast parties press for repealing army's special powers

Tripura,Immigration/Law/Rights, Wed, 11 Apr 2012 IANS

Agartala, April 11 (IANS) The demand to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which gives sweeping powers to security forces deployed in disturbed areas, was reiterated by a cross-section of tribal parties here Wednesday.


"Innocent people, especially the tribals, are victimised by security forces in the name of anti-insurgency operations," Assam MP Biswajit Daimary said while addressing a gathering of tribals.


Daimary, also a senior leader of tribal based party Bodoland People's Front (BPF), said: "All the regional and tribal based parties in the northeastern region have been demanding that the act be withdrawn from the region but the central government is going slow on this vital issue."


Local rights groups and various other political parties described the AFSPA as "draconian" and said it should be repealed.


"Demand for repealing AFSPA is one of the main issues of the tribal and regional parties of the northeast," said the BPF leader, a Rajya Sabha member from Assam.


He claimed that AFSPA was often misused and several hundred innocent tribal youths had been either detained or arrested under the act.


Jagadhish Debbarma, general secretary of the tribal based party Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT), said his party had for years been organising movements against AFSPA in Tripura.


The INPT is political ally of the main opposition Congress in Left ruled Tripura.


"Several hundred tribal youths have been either detained or arrested under the AFSPA over the years. They must be freed immediately," the INPT leader told the gathering.


Local rights groups and political parties describe the act as "draconian" and want it repealed.


Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram has said his ministry had sought amendments in the AFSPA; these were pending before the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).


The Tripura government has recently extended for another six months the operation of the AFSPA in certain parts of the northeastern state.


Besides Tripura, the AFSPA is also in force in Manipur (excluding the Imphal Municipal Council area), Assam and Nagaland, and in the Tirap and Changlang districts of Arunachal Pradesh.


Human rights activist Irom Chanu Sharmila of Manipur has been on an indefinite hunger strike for the last 12 years, demanding withdrawal of the act.


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