SRINAGAR: The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which provides immunity to soldiers operating in J&K, can’t be revoked as long as the Disturbed Area Act (DAA) is in place, a former Chief Justice of Orissa High Court said Saturday.
AFSPA is in place because DAA is here. To invoke AFSPA power is with President of India or Governor of the state,” said Justice (retd) Bilal Nazki while speaking at a seminar here. He said Kashmir was declared as a ‘disturbed area’ “on the instructions of the then Home Minister of India, who happened to be a Kashmiri (Mufti Mohammad Sayeed) through then Governor of the state.”
Nazki, who is chairperson of Bihar’s State Human Rights Commission, said AFSPA can be revoked if there is a political will. “But there should be a mechanism even within the AFSPA. Let them decide first.”
Nazki said AFSPA has been a problem for the Northeast as well where it is in place for the past six decades. He said J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah “tried his best” to get AFSPA revoked from certain areas of the state but he didn’t get support from any corner. Omar talked for the revocation of the law from certain areas for years. Did he get the support? No. If it was an issue like age enhancement (of employees) he would have got it,” Naziki said that human rights situation in many parts of India, where AFSPA is not in vogue, “is worse than Kashmir.
In his address, senior Supreme Court lawyer Colin Gonsalves said certain parts of judiciary “take part on the side of state.”He said though most of Kashmiris do not trust Indian judiciary, “certain latest judgments have kindled a ray of hope to get certain amount of justice.”
We all know how difficult it is to get justice. Chance of victory may be small but it is there. You must take whatever opportunity you may have slight chance and that chance is worth taking,” Gonsalves said.