Will Irom Sharmila's fast bear fruit, will AFSPA be repealed? Pradip Phanjoubam, editor of Imphal Free Press joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on the issue.
Q. Is there any indication that Irom Sharmila's 12-year-old fast may force the Indian government to repeal AFSPA? Asked by: Mary
A. Sharmila's fast hangs like an uneasy conscience around the Indian government's neck. However, governments seldom act by conscience and are dictated by other considerations of realpolitik. Successive home ministers have made it explicit the decision for a review will depend on the Army agreeing to climb down from its stance of keeping the AFSPA as it is, none of its draconian features subdued. Otherwise the civil government is for a huminising of the act, and this statement came from the Prime Minister himself.
Q. What do think the state & central government should do? Asked by: Farhan
A. There is a recommendation by a Judicial commission headed Justice Jeevan Reddy which called for a radical redoing of the act. The government should honour this recommendation. By not doing so, it is undermining its own very important independent institutions. The ongoing insurgency does need to be tackled, but leaving it to the military to do the job is not the way. It has failed for the last half century. The military could remain as the fire power back up for a revamped civil counter insurgency mechanism. The problem is, the Army has such an open disdain for the civil establishment that it will never agree to take orders from the civil police.
Q. Can fast bear any fruits in India today? Asked by: HS
A. Hazare's was a loud message of conscience heard everywhere in India. It could not have had an impact on the larger political establishment. Sharmila's is not given as much attention, for the issue though it absolutely challenges the democratic credential of India, has still not touched the conscience of the nation. It should and we should make that difference happen. It is a language of conscience, so maybe it will not have immediate urgent reciprocation, but ultimately the message should not be made a voice in the wilderness.
Q. Why no solution is there that can be accepted by both? Asked by: Deepak Sharma
A. The Indian Government's attitude to the AFSPA must be seen from two different vantage. Kashmir and Northeast. I think if it was only the Northeast, probably the government would have had less trouble deciding to remove it or water it down. But Kashmir, makes the equation a lot different. Here it is seen as a proxy war by Pakistan and not just a radical, violent internal strife. Maybe the answer would also be about delinking the two regions and evolve different strategies of tackling the issues of extreme civil dissent against the nation. This is legitimate. Kashmir and Northeast are different geographically and politically.
Q. Don't you think, its direct occupation of North East state by India? Asked by: shahzada
A. You mean military occupation? Well, many of the soldiers are from the Northeast. Many of the politicians and bureaucrats from the Northeast are also part of the lobby that wants the act to remain. It is not as simple or black and white.