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Thursday, 26 April 2018

The Hindu Editorial: Revisit AFSPA

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The Hindu Editorial: Revisit AFSPA
Title: Revisit AFSPA

(Its revocation in some areas is welcome, but should it be on the statute books at all?)

The Centre’s decision to revoke the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in Meghalaya and reduce its ambit in Arunachal Pradesh is welcome insofar as it signifies a willingness to reconsider the use of the special law as and when the ground situation improves.

The extent of ‘disturbed areas’ in Meghalaya was earlier limited to within 20 km of its border with Assam. The whole of Nagaland, most of Assam, and Manipur excluding the areas falling under seven Assembly constituencies in Imphal, continue to be under the law, which provides protection to the point of total immunity from prosecution for the security forces operating in the notified areas.

In Arunachal, the areas under AFSPA have been reduced to the limits of eight police stations, instead of the previous 16, in three districts bordering Assam

It was only last month that the Act was extended for six months in Assam, even though the Union Home Ministry has said the situation has improved considerably.

AFSPA was extended in Nagaland by six months from January.

Manipur had borne the brunt of Army excesses over the years. In a rare intervention in a matter concerning internal security.

In 2016 the Supreme Court had ruled that the armed forces cannot escape investigation for excesses committed in the discharge of their duties even in ‘disturbed areas’.

It ordered a probe into specific cases. In other words, accountability for human rights violations is sacrosanct and the legal protection offered by AFSPA cannot be absolute.

In 2005, a committee headed by former Supreme Court judge B.P. Jeevan Reddy was tasked by the then United Progressive Alliance government with suggesting amendments to AFSPA.

The committee recommended that the law be repealed(cancel) altogether, and that the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act be amended in a manner that would enable insurgency and conflict to be tackled legally.

Final words

Now that there is some degree of official recognition that special laws for protecting armed forces personnel from the legal consequences of their operations and excesses need not continue indefinitely, it is time for the Centre to revisit the Jeevan Reddy committee report and find ways of humanising AFSPA, if not revoking it altogether.

Title: Koreas to talk peace

(What the high-stakes meeting is all about)

What is the inter-Korean summit?

The leaders of North and South Korea, Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in, will meet in the demilitarised zone between the two countries on Friday to discuss the ‘denuclearisation’ of the Korean peninsula and the official end to the Korean War (1950-53) which has technically still not concluded.

How did the summit come about?

Mr. Moon, who took over as President of South Korea last May, has been a proponent of engagement between the Koreas, a cause he has pushed. In his 2018 New Year’s Day speech, Mr. Kim said he would send a North Korean delegation to the Winter Olympics in South Korea in February. Since then, there have been several high-level diplomatic meetings leading to the setting up of the summit.

How is the U.S. involved in peace talks?

The U.S. is a major stakeholder in the region where two of its key allies, South Korea and Japan, are located. The U.S has over 28,000 troops in South Korea and the country’s involvement in peace talks is to be expected. As the thaw occurred, Mr. Kim conveyed his willingness to talk with Mr. Trump via the South Koreans.

The outcome of the U.S.-North Korea meeting is particularly difficult to predict because both Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump are unpredictable and prone to dramatic gestures.

According to Mr. Moon, the North Koreans have not demanded that U.S. troops withdraw from South Korea as a precondition for denuclearisation but have asked for security and an end to hostility. Mr. Trump, whilst praising Mr. Kim, has said that sanctions will remain until a deal is reached.

What about China?

China is the largest trading partner of both North and South Korea. Mr. Kim has had a cooler approach to China relative to his father or grandfather, both of whom ran North Korea before him.

As China participated in UN sanctions against North Korea, the relationship between the two countries was further strained. Mr. Kim made a sudden visit to Beijing last month — his first foreign trip as North Korea’s leader.

His manoeuvres could be a clever strategy to engage with all stakeholders, some of whom, like the U.S. and China, have competing interests in the region. Reaching out to China before talks with the U.S. could also provide some backing to North Korea.

Vocabulary words:

Revisit (verb) = Consider again from a different perspective

Revocation (noun) = The official cancellation

Statute (noun) = Written law passed by legislative body (क़ानून)

Ambit (noun) = The scope (सीमा)

Prosecution (noun) = Charge, complaint (अभियोग)

Curtail (verb) = Reduce in extent (कटौती)

Vigour (noun) = Strength, stamina

Dilute (verb) =
Weaken, reduce

Impunity (noun) = Exemption (दण्ड मुक्ति)

Abrogate (verb) = Cancel, invalidate (अभिनिषेध करना)

Brunt (noun) = The worst part of a specific action (प्रहार)

Probe (noun) = Investigation (तहक़ीक़ात)

Sacrosanct (adj) = Sacred, respected (पुण्यमय)

Absolute (adj) = Complete, total (पूर्ण)

Insurgency (noun) = The active revolt or uprising (विद्रोह)

Demilitarise (verb) =
Remove all military forces

Come about (phrasal verb) = Happen, take place

Proponent (noun) = Advocate, supporter (समर्थक)

Thaw (noun) = A period of warmer weather

Prone (adj) = Vulnerable, susceptible, desirous (इच्छुक)


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