Editorial : Revisit AFSPA

The Centre’s decision to revoke(वापस लेना/रद्द करना) the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in Meghalaya and reduce(छोटा करना/अधीन करना) its ambit(सीमा/मंडल) in Arunachal Pradesh is welcome insofar(जहां तक) as it signifies a willingness to reconsider(पुनर्विचार करना) the use of the special law as and when the ground situation improves. The extent of ‘disturbed(अशान्त/व्याकुल) areas’ in Meghalaya was earlier limited to within 20 km of its border with Assam. The whole of Nagaland, most of Assam, and Manipur excluding(छोड़कर/के बिना) the areas falling under seven Assembly constituencies(निर्वाचन क्षेत्रों) in Imphal, continue to be under the law, which provides protection to the point of total immunity(बचाव/छूट) from prosecution for the security forces operating in the notified areas. In Arunachal, the areas under AFSPA have been reduced to the limits of eight polic
e stations, instead(बजाय/के स्थान में) of the previous 16, in three districts bordering Assam. It was only last month that the Act was extended for six months in Assam, even though the Union Home Ministry has said the situation has improved considerably(पर्याप्त रूप में/बड़े पैमाने पर). AFSPA was extended in Nagaland by six months from January. There is no sign that the vigour(शक्ति/वैधता) of the law will be diluted(मन्दित/पतला), but the area of its use may be progressively curtailed(कटौती/संक्षिप्त करना) over time. It was withdrawn in Tripura in 2015. Assam has been empowered to decide on how long it needs the cover of AFSPA. Even though there is ample evidence that the law has created a sense of impunity among the security forces wherever it has been invoked(विनती करना/लागू), the Centre is still far from abrogating(अभिनिषेध करना) the Act, mainly because the Army favours its continuance.
Manipur had borne the brunt of Army excesses over the years. In a rare intervention(हस्तक्षेप) in a matter concerning internal security, in 2016 the Supreme Court had ruled that the armed forces cannot escape investigation for excesses committed in the discharge of their duties even in ‘disturbed areas’. It ordered a probe into specific cases. In other words, accountability for human rights violations is sacrosanct(रक्षणीय/पवित्र) and the legal protection offered by AFSPA cannot be absolute. During the Budget session, Union Minister of State for Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir informed the Lok Sabha in a written reply that the government was considering a proposal to make AFSPA more “operationally effective and humane”. In 2005, a committee headed by former Supreme Court judge B.P. Jeevan Reddy was tasked by the then United Progressive(प्रगतिशील/उन्नतिशील)Alliance government with suggesting amendments to AFSPA. The committee recommended that the law be repealed(निरस्त)altogether, and that the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act be amended in a manner that would enable insurgency(विद्रोह/बग़ावत) and conflict(संघर्ष/टकराव) to be tackled legally. Now that there is some degree of official recognition that special laws for protecting armed forces personnel from the legal consequences(परिणाम/महत्त्व) of their operations and excesses need not continue indefinitely, it is time for the Centre to revisit (फिर से मिलना) the Jeevan Reddy committee report and find ways of humanising AFSPA, if not revoking it altogether.

Important Vocabulary
1.Revoke(वापस लेना/रद्द करना)
Synonyms: abolish, abrogate, annul deny, dismantle
Antonyms: affirm, allow, approve, corroborate, enact
2.Ambit(सीमा/मंडल)
Synonyms: boundary, bounds, compass, extension, range
3.Insurgency(विद्रोह/बग़ावत)
Synonyms: dissent, insurrection, mutiny, revolt,, revolution
Antonyms: calm, obedience, peace, orthodoxy, submission
4.Curtailed(कटौती/संक्षिप्त करना)
Synonyms: cut back, decrease, diminish, downsize, halt
Antonyms:develop, enlarge, expand, extend, grow
5.Repealed(निरस्त)
Synonyms: abolish, abrogate, annul, cancel, dismantle
Antonyms: allow, approve, build, enforce, establish

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