What the heck do we know of AFSPA?


By: A Bimol Akoijam

To all those who seem to have a problem when I talk of “Tragedy of de-linking the political premise of AFSPA”

Read the following excerpts:


Calling Naxalism a bigger challenge then terrorism and insurgency, Union home minister P Chidabaram on Tuesday said…”The most violent movement in India is not terrorism or insurgency but Left-wing extremism”…[t]he burden of the governance cannot be shifted from the state governments to the central government….in the ultimate analysis, the responsibility of governance in the Left-wing extremism affected districts must rest with the states”

—     Naxalism is a bigger challenge than terrorism – Chidambaram, Time of India, page no 11, dated 14 September, 2011)



Irom Sharmila presents a more complex choice before the average citizen. For Manipuris, she is a homegrown heroine…[b]ut for those outside Manipur, she is just as likely to be seen as someone who is questioning the majesty of the Indian state… there are enough number of others who will see…Irom Sharmila’s fast …as a challenge to the Indian state much in the manner that any popular movement in Jammu and Kashmir is seen as a threat to national sovereignty”… [t]he imposition of a draconian law like AFSPA, be it in Manipur or Jammu and Kashmir, reveals a crisis of governance. Indeed, both Manipur and Kashmir have suffered because of corrupt politics as much as they have from violence.

—     Rajdeep Sardesai, Irom’s cause is riskier to support. Anna is safe, IBNlive blogs




(i) Do these observations have anything to do with the AFSPA?

(ii) Where do the familiar arguments like “AFSPA gives powers to the NCO” and the “Right to life has been jeopardized” etc stand vis-à-vis these observations?




(A) The Act addresses a reality in our real world, that is, armed insurgency which purportedly threatens the “national security” (ie undermining the territorial integrity and constitutional order of the Indian State). In Manipuri, that phenomenon is called “khutlai paiba lalhouba” (or “armed rebellion”; here it must be noted that “insurgency” is a synonym for “rebellion”).


And yet, the Supreme Court Judgment has categorically insisted that the “disturbed condition” wherein the Act has been enforced is not due to “armed rebellion”. It even says that the said “condition” does not constitute a threat to the “security of the nation”! If the Act is not about the “disturbed condition” related to “khutlai paiba lalhouba” (or “armed rebellion”) or it doesn’t threaten the national security, what is it?


Having failed to address or remained ignorant of such basic questions, many have failed to understand the Act itself. For instance, the violence which is being exercised by the State through AFSPA is fundamentally based on or derived from the violence to “institute order” rather than “violence to preserve order”. The AFSPA is a violence to institute “Indian-ness” or the legitimacy of “Indian State” in specific areas and their inhabitants wherein the “Indian-ness” are problematic. That is why the Act has not been imposed in all those areas that have “armed insurgency”. It is imposed only in those places wherein “Indian-ness” has become problematic for the Indian State (Northeast, Kashmir, and briefly Punjab), not in those areas wherein “Indian-ness” has not been seen as a problem as such, albeit affected by armed insurgency (ie leftist insurgency in “mainland” India).

AFSPA as “Another 9/11” —Reality beyond rhetoric and dubious knowledge of ground reality, The Sangai Express, dated 14 September, 2011


(B) Interestingly, all this while the protestors are busy while barking at the “bare act” of AFSPA with their increasingly redundant legal arguments, the Government of India does not and will not de-link what it thinks the Act is addressing while thinking about AFSPA.

—     AFSPA: Tragedy of Delinking Its Political Premise, Imphal Free Press, dated 11 September, 2001




Take note

(a) The use of expressions by Union Home Minister, which need your attention/your own reasons, to clarify the meaning and politics of the categories/terms (“insurgency”, “terrorism”, “extremism”), his comment on “governance” vis-à-vis Central and State Governments (ostensibly as an instrument of “law and order, which is a State subject under the Constitution) and the fact that AFSPA can be imposed by the Central Government after the amendment to the Act in 1972. (Anyone who had watched the programme on CNN-IBN recently…remember the remark of a retired General of the Indian Army that placed the responsibility entirely on the State Government)


(b) Ask youself, why is that the protest against an Act which subverts the premise of the claim of being a “Democratic Republic” is seen as “anti-national” while those who support the subversion become “nationalists” (with reference to Rajdeep Sardesai’s write-up which speaks of a truth nonetheless).


(C) Confession: To my fellow citizens, particularly Northeasterners and more specifically Manipuris; Have written and argued a lot on this issue over the years, and frankly I am getting tired now; if you still have problem on the idea of the “political premise” of the Act, please do check out, amongst others,


(i) Another 9/11. Another Act of Terror: The Embedded Disorder of AFSPA, in Bare Acts (CSDS-Sarai, 2005)

(ii) AFSPA: Smoke Screen of a Political Act, Imphal Free Press, dated 22 May, 2011



Price of Political Disconnect


[box style=”quote” color=”green” size=”small” align=”right”]Fiasco of 2007 Assembly Election wherein AFSPA couldn’t become a political issue in Manipur and a possibility that history may repeat itself once again in 2012![/box](A) A racially grounded nationalist ethos continues to perpetuate an inhumane and politically dangerous politics, of which AFSPA becomes a naked display of lies and dishonesty and an instrument that seeks to legitimize the unleashing of an illegitimate violence by the state agencies.


(B) A discriminatory politics that subverts and deprives a civilized life (based on the principle of democratic ethos and dignity of the people) continues for decades with an ominous additional promise of life without dignity and well-being for many more years to come.


(C) the delinking of the political premise of the AFSPA has allowed the subversion of a civilised democratic life while simultaneously strengthening the denial and distortions of the nature of the historically rooted (and contemporary) socio-political issues that affect our collective life for decades. Consequently, our capacity to address and deal with our troubled situation in an informed, honest, purposeful and realistic manner has also been seriously jeopardised.

—     AFSPA as “Another 9/11” —Reality beyond rhetoric and dubious knowledge of ground reality, The Sangai Express, dated 14 September, 2011


(D) Fiasco of 2007 Assembly Election wherein AFSPA couldn’t become a political issue in Manipur and a possibility that history may repeat itself once again in 2012!

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  1. For Amit. Every year 500 Manipuris are disappeared and Indian Law decriminalizes this act. I think that’s a fucking disgrace. Which of the previous two statements upset you more. And what does it say about your intellect?

      • Amit you seem like a handsome young chap, I hope you remain happy in Bangalore. If you are not talking about afspa go to an ice cream parlour or shopping mall and go flirt be happy. Leave the running of Kangla to those who care about it no rude words will be used. Plan is simple write to Sharmila ask her to stand for the 2014 elections just say whether you vote in Inner or Outer Manipur; anyone who is registered to vote there or will be ie Manipuris who today are 16 and over who will at least return to register to vote and will vote. This de facto (not a bad word my friend just latin) creates an anti-afspa league 2017 if 31 AAL MLAs are voted in on the single issue anti-AFSPA campaign or in pre-election alliance with MLAs who agree to the same then afspa is withdrawn from all of Manipur by denotifying disturbed area status, plus you get to run your country can’t be as bad as what preceded. If your problem was language then I have compromised. If it was something else ie you are a government pyscophant (not a rude word derives from informant against the fig trade with sparta from the pelopennesian war by all means google) please say what it is the government and their cronies to whom it sells the offices of state actually want. I said please you obviously come from a well mannered family and so out of respect I have complied with your request for polite terminology. Or go to the shopping mall. No need for any to become frustrated old chap again not a pjorative similar to the hindi Yaar but I do not speak the language of our northern oppressors.

  2. In the CP fake encounter case involving Delhi Police, the court convicted all the constables & head-constables who were part of it along with the ACP leading them. Some constables had argued that they were simply following the orders… court said they could have refused to follow an order which is illegal… Can a sepoy of armed forces be convicted the way the police constables have been punished in this case….! No, AFSPA grants them impunity from the similar crimes against civilian citizens…patriotism for a serviceman should mean the defence of land and people of the country; not blindly following the orders… so besides the AFSPA, something seems to be wrong in the training of Indian soldiers… demand of blind-followership of commands in the ranks of our army (a design continuing from British time because they did not want the soldiers to be patriots of India) seems to supercede patriotism most of the time even now… beyond the AFSPA we also need to study how the actual users of the Act work and why…


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