Delhi May Dilute Army’s ‘Holy Book’20 June 2010
New Delhi: Faced with reports of fake encounters, Government of India is planning to go ahead with certain amendments in Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) which includes handing over of a trooper in case of extra-judicial killings to the State authorities. Sources said a draft note has been circulated to the Law and Defence ministries for their comments as the UPA government continues to strive hard to carry out a thorough review of the AFSPA and making it more humane, the sources said. “Once a view is firmed up, the amendments would be listed before the Cabinet Committee on Security,” they said. The AFSPA gives army the powers to detain and, if the situation warrants, eliminate suspected militants when they are fighting militants without the fear of prosecution. Northern Command chief Lt Gen B S Jaswal recently termed AFSPA as ‘holy book’ for troopers. “There was a need to give a fresh look to the Act and make it more humane. The Second Administrative Reforms Committee had suggested to the government replacing of the Act with an amended law which gives the Centre the right to deploy the Army or para-military forces in situations involving national security,” sources said. They said the amendments also include handing over of Army personnel, who allegedly indulge in fake encounter killings, to the local police authorities for prosecution. The issue of amendments has been regularly raised by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah with several senior central leaders including the Prime Minister and Home Minister P Chidambaram. Recently, Jammu and Kashmir Police had faced an uphill task while dealing with Army when three youth were killed in fake encounter in Machil sector. Among the accused was an Army Major Upendra. Police have been seeing his custody to carry forward investigations into the case.