While the ongoing debate on the recommendations given by Justice Verma’s panel continues. The government of India has conveniently decided to look the other way on the matter concerning amendments in Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) as suggested by Justice Verma committee.In-fact the Law Minister of the country Ashwani Kumar has publicly tried to justify protection provided to Armed forces under AFSPA . The Minister told NDTV “How do you divide the action taken in the line of duty where the circumstances are such that nobody knows what is going to happen?” “The context is different.”
These comments coming in from the Law Minister are appalling. What is that he is trying to say, is he trying to justify rape by men in uniform under the pretext of duty? How can rape happen in the line of duty? It is difficult to understand what “different context” he is talking about. The whole country is angered in the aftermath of the Delhi bus gang rape, demanding harsh punishments for those who commit crimes against women. Why should there be any exception taken for men in uniform; who have history of committing systematic sexual violence towards women, while operating in conflict zones.
If anything those in uniform; if found guilty of any such offense should be dealt with more severely. After all they are supposed to protect, not to inflict harm on their own people; well of course that is if they are considered that.
Recently even Supreme Court of India ascertained that in cases of rape and sexual assault security forces should not be able to shield themselves with AFSPA.
“You go to a place in exercise of AFSPA, you commit rape, you commit murder, then where is the question of sanction? It is a normal crime which needs to be prosecuted, and that is our stand,” a Supreme Court bench consisting of Justices BS Chauhan and Swatanter Kumar noted recently.
Over decades Indian security forces have perverted upon AFSPA to provide impunity to criminals within its establishment be it in Kashmir or certain Northeastern states of India, where AFPSA is enforced.
In a recent report “alleged Perpetrators- Stories of Impunity in Jammu and Kashmir” released by International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir, nine such cases were reported.
The Government of India should have taken these recommendations with much more seriousness rather than give reasoning for sexual violence in disturbed areas by Indian security agencies. Statements such as these show how much those people in the centre are distant miles away from the ground reality and seriousness of the issue concerning “Disturbed Areas”.