Immunity from state

from prosecution in a court of law for offences committed by them while on duty in the state. These laws such as Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) promulgated in Jammu and Kashmir since the start of armed militancy in Kashmir, allow troopers to enter homes in the dead of the night or at any time they wish to, detain a person on mere suspicion, conduct search operations, put any area under cordon. These laws also give troopers blanket immunity from prosecution in any court of law even for actions which are not necessarily related to fighting militancy – the supposed reason they are here for in the first place. Pro-India People’s Democratic Party, which ruled the state as part of the coalition, also has made repeated demands for revocation of laws like AFSPA. Many civil rights groups, international and Indian, have also been pitching for making it more humane.
Army has always opposed any moves aimed at making the law more humane (they call it diluting the law). The new army chief General V K Singh on assuming charge toed the line of his predecessors. Singh said that any “dilution” of the Act (AFSPA) will impinge adversely on the manner in which the armed forces operate. He explained that while operating against terrorists, insurgents and anti-national elements in constrained and trying circumstances, the armed forces need requisite legal protection.
The argument that troopers sent in by the state to conduct operations in its own territory need special laws to protect them from the laws of the land is more than surprising. We are not talking about intelligence agencies who operate in foreign countries and whose actions (mostly espionage) are not covered by the law.
The argument that inferred as what the troopers are doing during their posting in areas where such laws are promulgated is not in conformity with the law of the land. Or to put it more directly, the actions of the troopers are illegal as per “normal” laws of the land. If the troopers’ actions during operations and during their postings in “disturbed areas” contravene laws, common sense says that then their actions must be wrong. The  way the strategists and policy makers in the military hierarchy have been defending the continuation of AFSPA and other such laws also shows there is something terribly wrong with the military operations in Jammu and Kashmir and other areas classified as disturbed.
No wonder that victims or the kin of the victims of hundreds of gross human rights violations by the troopers have not got any justice. They don’t even hope to. With laws like AFSPA in vogue, even after identifying a culprit, the crimes go unpunished. It does not help anyone if logical questions and reasonable demands are met by sheer dismissive arrogance.


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