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AFSPA: Between people and the Centre

The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) is a draconian law which denies basic civil rights to the states subjected to it. It empowers the Army to kill civilians or hold them indefinitely without the right of legal defence. The Army cannot be prosecuted for its acts under any circumstance because it enjoys total immunity under the Act.

Many states like Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura are bearing the brunt of AFSPA. The culture of these border states differs from the culture of ‘heartland’ states. Irom Chanu Sharmila’s 11-year old fast demanding withdrawal of AFSPA from Manipur has gone in vain. Last week, Army Chief General Vijay Kumar Singh met Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to discuss the issue. AFSPA is a piece of legislation that falls within the ambit of politics. It is a matter between the people of Kashmir, represented by the Chief Minister, and Parliament of India.

The government declared Kashmir and the Northeast ‘disturbed’ and it is for the government to decide when these areas wil be ‘normal’. If AFSPA is needed again, the government can always revive it.

The report of Justice BP Jeevan Reddy Committee, which had an Army General as a member, was submitted nearly seven years ago, the recommendations of which have not been implemented yet. The fifth report of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission has also recommended repeal of AFSPA. It is time for AFSPA to go.


Women education

This is with reference to the news item ‘Workshop held on process of accreditation’ (Haryana edition, November 22). I would like to inform the readers that the founder of BPS Women Vishvavidyalaya, Khanpurkalan, Bhagat Phool Singh, had just three girls enrolled with him when he set his goal to impart education to women in 1936.

His mission culminated in the formation of BPS Women University which has a big campus, hostels, a central library with different teaching departments. It is appropriate to quote former President of India Shankar Dayal Sharma who said, “a library is more important than a university because a library can function without a university whereas a university cannot be without a library” (World Book Fair, 1988). I want to suggest to the girls living in the vicinity of the university campus to avail themselves of the opportunity of quality and higher education.


Handling stray dogs

It has been proved beyond doubt that killing of stray dogs is no solution to control dog population. The recent killing of more than 50 stray dogs within a week in Amritsar town has brought the issue back into limelight. The Municipal Corporation has failed to realise that sterilisation and immunisation are the most effective tools to control and maintain stray dogs. India’s oldest MC, the Madras Municipal Corporation, killed stray dogs en masse in 1995, but nothing substantial was achieved. Their number remained almost the same as stray dogs from the adjoining areas moved to the city due to availability of food and shelter. The laxity to implement the Dog Birth Control Programme needs to be condemned and accountability fixed on the concerned officials for dereliction of duty.


Justice delayed

The editorial, Sukh Ram goes to jail (Nov 22) was informative and thought-provoking. It rightly observed how tardy, cumbersome and expensive the legal system of our country was. The court verdicts, in most of the cases, come after decades and sometimes after the death of litigants. The judicial system works at a snail’s pace due to the shortage of judges and unnecessary adjournments taken by lawyers and the police to prolong the cases. Justice delayed is justice denied. There have been instances when the accused persons have spent prime years of their lives in jails and finally been acquitted. All the cases should be fast-tracked and decided in a time-bound manner. Had Sukh Ram’s case been decided earlier, it would have been a deterrent. To give speedy justice to the public, the government must appoint judges to the fullest sanctioned strength in all courts.

DP JINDAL, Mandi Gobindgarh

Corrupt jail officials

This refers to ‘Kapurthala effect: Govt mulls reforms’ (Nov 22). There have not been any worthwhile jail reforms in Punjab during the past 50 years. A jail warden is responsible for all kinds of activities that happen inside the jail, some of which are illegal and carried out with active connivance of the jail authorities. In some cases, drugs are being smuggled into the jails by wardens themselves. ‘Hafta’ is taken from the prisoners by the jail staff for providing small services. Admission to outsourced hospitals is granted without merit and justification by paying hefty bribes. In the purchase of clothing, ration items and medicines, low-quality products are bought at higher rates. The government must take immediate preventive measures in this rgard.

Maj NARINDER SINGH (retd), SAS. Nagar

Indira was a crowd-puller 

Apropos of the middle ‘Courageous and capricious’ (November 21), Indira Gandhi, a charismatic leader, was the ‘Pied piper of Hamlin’ and a crowd-puller. A Congress leader from Assam had said of her as “Indira is India” which had irked the Opposition.

After the 1971 war with Pakistan, Atal Bihari Vajpayee showered praises on her as an embodiment of Durga. She had many sides to her personality. While being pitted against Morarji Desai for the party’s leadership, the waiting media was keen to know the result in gender and finally the result was declared in her favour, a ‘girl’. On a holiday in Shimla, she got her car stopped and asked her husband Feroz Gandhi to board another car because she could not let the driver go slow whereas Feroz wanted it the other way.

Not interested much in rituals and religion, like her father, she was once questioned about it during a pilgrimage and she replied wittingly, ‘The place gets purified and glorified with the visit of thousands of devotees’.

BM SINGH, Amritsar 



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