Civil society groups in insurgency-hit Manipur have been carrying on with their campaign for withdrawal of 'draconian' 1958 Armed Forces Special Powers Act, alleging that security forces operating in the state often resort to excesses taking advantage of the Act in force.
Particularly unique is the crusade Irom Sanu Sharmila who has been on fast since November 5, 2000 demanding withdrawal of AFSPA from Manipur.
She has been kept confined and force-fed through her nose inside a high-security ward in Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital in Imphal as a case of attempted suicide is registered against her every time the court grants her bail after a certain period.
However, notwithstanding the popular demand in the state for withdrawal of AFSPA, the ruling Congress is in no mood to mount pressure on its government to try for withdrawal of the Act from the state even though the next round of Assembly election is fast approaching in the state.
The Act is unlikely to be withdrawn from the state in near future because of the prevailing insurgency situation.
A highly-placed source in Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee informed that the state party unit didn't subscribe to the idea of withdrawal of the AFSPA in view of 'prevailing situation' in the troubled state.
The AFSPA gives sweeping powers to security forces engaged in counter-insurgency operations and they can raid any premises sans any warrant , arrest anyone on suspicion and even open fire after giving a mere warning.
The source informed that the ruling Congress in the state, however, was in favour for 'suitable review' of the provisions of the Act that has been the focus of mass discontentment in the troubled bordering state.
"The situation in the state warrants that the AFSPA remains in force. However, time has come for suitable review of the Act," a senior MPCC leader said adding the situation has to improve for withdrawal of the AFSPA.
The party has advised for amendment of the Act to make it bearable for the common people who are caught between the insurgents and security forces in the state.