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HRW urges India to repeal Armed Forces Special Powers Act
November 20, 2007 21:25 IST
A US-based human rights watchdog has urged the Indian government to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in force in Jammu and Kashmir [Images] and the north-east, alleging that it provides "impunity" for abuses and "fuels militancy".
"The AFSPA grants the military wide powers of arrest, the right to shoot to kill, and to occupy or destroy property in counterinsurgency operations," Human Rights Watch said.
The group said it has documented many cases in Jammu and Kashmir, such as the killing of human rights lawyer Jalil Andrabi in 1996, in which the perpetrators, as members of the armed forces, were "shielded by the impunity offered by the AFSPA".
"The AFSPA effectively allows Indian troops to get away with murder," said Meenakshi Ganguly, senior South Asia researcher at HRW.
"The Indian government may claim that it has zero tolerance for human rights abuses, but this law shields troops from prosecution and punishment," Ganguly added.
Ganguly said generations of Indians have suffered abuse at the hands of troops empowered by this act, and it has "fuelled the cycle of violence in Kashmir and the north-east".
"Ending this impunity by repealing AFSPA would be the best way to address the public discontent that only fuels further militancy," Ganguly said.