The circumstances under which security forces especially army is operating in Jammu and Kashmir there is a need for some extra powers to deal with the peculiar situation prevailing there. What is happening in J&K is no law and order issue which is purely State Police domain to tackle. Army is facing Pakistan on the borders, tackling Pak-supported terrorism and separatists promoted internal turmoil on the drop of a stone. Under such condition any agency operating in disturbed environment has to have some extra powers and the ranting of removal of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) reeks of political machination. AFSPA vests excessive powers on security forces deployed in areas deemed ‘disturbed.’ These powers include the right to shoot to kill, to raid houses and destroy any property that is “likely” to be used by terrorists. A person who has committed or is even about to commit a cognisable offence can be arrested without a warrant, even on “reasonable suspicion.” The AFSPA provides soldiers with immunity from prosecution. It goes against India’s democratic values. It is supposed to be a temporary measure, an emergency legislation to be used in an area convulsed in conflict. However, AFSPA has been in force for decades on end in several parts of the Northeast and in Jammu and Kashmir. Clearly, it has failed to put a lid on violent conflicts in these areas and appears to have even triggered violence in areas that were previously calm. The current unrest in Kashmir is certainly worrying. But this needs the State to reach out to civilians and build their confidence in the country’s democratic institutions and justice mechanisms. India has sacrificed far too many innocent lives by keeping it in force. However, when looked at closely, the spate of terrorist activities, especially in the Jammu and Kashmir region, has shown no signs of reduction. Without the AFSPA the Indian Armed Forces would be sitting ducks at the hands of terrorists. It is only right that they have the shield of the Act to help them stop terrorism without further loss of lives.
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