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Updated: February 7, 2013 10:27 IST

Army’s stand makes it hard to amend AFSPA: Chidambaram

Sandeep Joshi
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Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram. File photo: PTI
Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram. File photo: PTI

Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Wednesday stressed the need for making the controversial Armed Forces (Special Power) Act (AFSPA) a more “humanitarian” law, but said the Union government could not move forward as there was “no consensus” between it and the Army on the issue.

“The Army has taken a strong stand against any dilution of the AFSPA… We can’t move forward because there is no consensus. The present and former Army Chiefs have taken a strong position that the Act should not be amended... They also do not want the government notification [of bringing areas under the AFSPA] to be taken back. How does the government move forward…to make the AFSPA a more humanitarian law?,” he said, delivering the K. Subrahmanyam Memorial Lecture on ‘India’s National Security- Challenges and Priorities’ at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.

Notably, the Justice Verma Committee highlighted misuse of the AFSPA by Army personnel and recommended that “sexual violence against women by members of the armed forces or uniformed personnel be brought within the purview of the ordinary criminal law.” But the Centre has not included this suggestion in its recent ordinance to strengthen laws to tackle sexual assaults.

On corruption

Calling for strong punishment to those involved in corruption, which destroyed the very fabric of society, Mr. Chidambaram, however, lamented “trial by media” of those accused of corruption. “We convict first, then ask for evidence and then frame charge… This is complete inversion of jurisprudence. I understand people’s anxiety to root out… corruption… but [through trial by media] we are sowing seeds that will destroy our law and order system. We should leave it to our courts.”

Referring to security challenges, he said: “It is a matter of regret that we are not ploughing more funds and more human resources into research and design [R&D], especially R&D that is related to national security. The situation will not change unless we allow more players, who will bring more resources, into the security-related manufacturing and services sectors. If we wish to scale up, both on technology and numbers, we need far more resources than what we can afford today.”

He, however, parried questions on a possible Rs.10,000-crore cut in defence expenditure in the coming budget. “If it is cut for this year, it is cut, you cannot do anything about it. That money you cannot have. Can it be provided next year? We can, provided we grow at a higher rate and we have more money.”

Mr. Chidambaram, however, pointed out that a cut in defence expenditure or in police forces would severely compromise the country’s defence and security preparedness and affect its capacity to meet security challenges.

Expressing concern at the growing fiscal and revenue deficit that affected government spending in all sectors, he said the country must “have the money to provide the money. If we do not have the money, we cannot borrow and provide the money. Borrowing is not an option for India… We can borrow within limits.”

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Mr. PC is just passing the responsibility. He knows that AFSPA cannot
be fully smoothed out with given insurgency issues, which need rapid
troop actions and sessions of interrogations in hostile circles
involving women. All that he can do is to restrict its scope to
minimum use, restricted to only the worst case places.

May be we can have a three level special acts in which AFSPA is used
only in worst among worst cases. A second act giving an intermediate
impunity for forces in moderately violent locations, while remaining
parts presenting no special powers for military as it is now.

Also, PC is picturing India's forces as 'bad guys' in democracy which
is not the case and should net be the case he his is a Democratic
government actually in power.

from:  Viswas
Posted on: Feb 7, 2013 at 17:41 IST

Army is called in, to do difficult and delicate tasks in disturbed
areas as they are dealing with our own citizens and they have to weed
out infiltrators and terrorists. Mostly the trouble creators take the
shield of the innocent civilians. Any combing and search operations
involve a close interaction with the local population. It is very easy
for the trouble creators to foist charges on the armed forces. The
civilian judicial process will be long drawn, demotivator and a
deterrent for an effective control of situation in the field.
Foisting charges on the Armed forces will be an effective weapon in
the hands of the trouble creators.
If there is any accusation or fear of over reach by the men in
uniform, armed forced can handle it with in their own system.After
all, it is also wing under the elected democratic government.
Armed forces has got its own judicial wing and for a fair dispensation
of justice, the demand should be to make its proceedings foolproof and
transperent

from:  Krishnan
Posted on: Feb 7, 2013 at 16:23 IST

It is shame to Indian Democracy and peoples who want to protect their womens from crimes of rape and Molestation, but at the same time differ on issue of said law for people in uniform deployed in Jammu & Kashmir , where the sitution is worst in nature from last 25 years and hunderds of reported and unreported issues of mass rape by Uniformed people came up. But Indian Democracy along with people of India are acting like a mute spectators. Today it is J&K tomarrow it may be other states of India.

from:  Parveez Ahmed
Posted on: Feb 7, 2013 at 12:05 IST

The Finance Minister says, the Army is against amending AFSPA. On the other hand,
in case he is convinced about amending the Act, he should take up the matter with
the Defense Minister and Prime Minister. The Indian Army is not like Pakistan's ISI
calling the shots. After all, the Army Chief reports to an IAS cadre Defense Secretary,
who can always overrule the former,if convinced.

from:  KS Raghunathan
Posted on: Feb 7, 2013 at 08:55 IST

AFSP Act was passed by Indian Parliament on 11 Sep 1958 when Civil
Administration & Law & Order situation( Police, Armed Police & CPO)
had failed in the NE States.Later in 1990, it was extended to J & K.At
the outset, it must be understood that the Indian Army hates to
operate in LICO. They are one of the best professional Armies of the
world & do not want to get involved in the dirty quagmire of Counter
Insurgency Operations.The Training & Leadership of Police whether
State or Central & the CPO is extremely poor.This truth should bother
the Home Minister & not the "Consensus" factor with the Army.It is
NOT a political issue or motion.The Govt has to provide protection to
it's ultimate weapon;that is fighting the Terrorists with one hand
tied behind their backs.A soldier is trained to fight the enemy &
safeguard the frontiers of the Nation.Do not degrade him to the status
of Police/CPO. Interestingly, a DG/IG of a CPO in Jharkhand had talked
recently about getting AFSP Act cover !!

from:  Lt Gen Dr Mohan Bhandari
Posted on: Feb 7, 2013 at 07:52 IST

Funny to see Mr. Chidambram say that. The last time I checked India was ruled by a
democratic, civilian government and the power to make laws was vested in the people.
"How does the government move forward…to make the AFSPA a more humanitarian
law?"... You ought to do better than that.

from:  Varun
Posted on: Feb 7, 2013 at 06:22 IST

Isn't the government has the right to make all political decisions. How
can army chiefs can make such authoritarian demands? I have tremendous
respects towards Indian Army and like to know their side of the story.
However I feel no state should undergo non democratic laws for such a
long time. There has to be an end!

from:  Amit
Posted on: Feb 7, 2013 at 06:19 IST

Before I opened this news I had in mind when you cut "Rs.10,000-crore"
for armed forces , what you expect. others are equipped better and its
challenge which Center always ignored.

from:  Jaswinder Singh Gill
Posted on: Feb 7, 2013 at 01:19 IST
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