On Sunday, a statement from the Chief Minister of Manipur N Biren Singh has shed light on the long-standing demand to repeal AFSPA in Manipur. He said he and the people of the poll-bound state wanted the withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). He said this in an interview with PTI. Manipur is among the 5 states that have its assembly elections in two phases on February 27 and March 3.
However, the Bharatiya Janata Party leader added that national security was still the top priority.
In December, the bordering state to Manipur, Nagaland was in the news as 14 civilians were killed by the security forces. This incident lead to reviving the long lost battle of ending AFSPA in the state. Meanwhile, the centre has extended the imposition of the law till June ins Nagaland and in Manipur till December.
The Chief Minister pointed out that Manipur needs protection from the armed forces as there is political instability in Myanmar that shares a border with the state.
He said that as a Manipuri and as chief minister of Manipur he wants the law to be repealed. “But at the same time, it is not possible to do so without assessing the ground situation,” Singh added.
There is a rising refugee situation in Manipur as the people fleeing Myanmar are trying to take shelter in India. India has not come to a final stand regarding the situation, however, it is giving medical care to the refugees.
AFSPA is a law that gives Army personnel sweeping powers to search, arrest, and open fire if they deem it necessary for “the maintenance of public order”, has been a contentious law imposed on the states in the northeast region.
According to a Public Interest Litigation of 2017 around 1,528 people were killed in encounters staged by the security forces between 2000 and 2012. The apex court had ordered a CBI probe into the matter. The situation has only worsened in the state from that time.
The people of Manipur and other states imposed with AFSPA have been historically opposing the law. But in the last few months once again thousands gathered on-street protesting demanding repealing AFSPA
The impact of this on the upcoming elections
BJP only won 21 out of the total 60-member in the state Assembly, and the Congress had won in 28 constituencies. However, BJP formed the government after merging with the regional outfits National People’s Party and Naga People’s Front.
The manifesto released by the National People’s Party which is still in alliance with BJP, however clearly states that the party will work towards repealing of AFSPA in the state. It was released by the party’s chief Conrad Sangma, Manipur Deputy Chief Minister Y Joykumar Singh and other leaders of the National People’s Party virtually.
The party has not announced a pre-poll alliance yet. Meanwhile, Joykumar Singh confirmed that the party will field its candidates in 40 constituencies.
The party is confident of at least bagging 20 seats.“As of now, the NPP has no plan to make a post-poll alliance with other parties,” the deputy chief minister said.
With the chief minter asserting that the state will repeal the act only with the mutual consent of the centre. There is speculation that it might further have a dwindling impact on the number of seats for the parties which is against the repealing of the act.
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