New Delhi: A demand was made in the Lok Sabha today for repeal of the "draconian" Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the North-East, with a few members saying it was the biggest deterrent in integrating the youth of the region with India.
Participating in a discussion on the Demands for Grants of the Ministry of North East Development, members in the
House made a case for bringing in change of strategy and political will for progress of North Eastern region.
"For 50 years we have clamped AFSPA on the region. Armed forces have killed 50,000 plus civilians in North-East. AFSPA has been the biggest deterrent of integrating NE youth with India... Remove AFSPA without any conditionality," said BJD member Tathagata Satpathy.
Thokchom Meinya (Cong) demanded immediate repeal of AFSPA from Manipur, saying the Act has been "draconian and black law". He said many agencies have said AFSPA should be repealed and the Centre should immediately repeal it.
Satpathy said the government at the Centre will have to change its strategy to integrate the North Eastern people with Indian culture. "It is a change in political will that is needed. It is not the BSF and armed forces who are at fault; it is politicians who are at fault," he said.
Flaying the attitude of successive Central governments towards North East, Satpathy said till 2008, Governors of the states in the region were retired armed forces personnel.
He demanded a Padma award for Irom Sharmila, who is fighting for the repeal of AFSPA in Manipur.
"Irom Sharmila deserves to be given Padma award for her perseverance. I admire her personally. The kind of awardees we saw this year, she deserves to be given Padma award," Satpathy said.
He said the attitude of successive governments towards North East has been "convoluted or perverted. If Britishers had not come to India, then perhaps North East would have been put off to China".