INDIA: Open letter to all political parties to take up the issue of repeal of AFSPA


Representatives of all political parties of India

The World’s largest democracy has plunged into the election season as the 16thLokh Sabha elections are approaching. The environment is tense. While you all are busy organizing rallies, giving speeches, proving yourself better and different from others, the media and the public are busy in speculations and debates. Your every move is being closely watched. This election season is particularly more gripping because of new political developments. Claims and promises are largely centered around development, secularism and corruption. It is being believed that with these issues, you all will be able to woo all sections of the population. However, the truth is that still millions of people are being left out.

You have missed out on millions of people for whom these promises of development, secularism and corruption hold no meaning. We are talking about the people residing in the AFSPA-imposed states of North East and Jammu & Kashmir. Their voices, their concerns have been ignored. But this is also not the only time. They have been ignored for decades.

Reports by NHRC, by several national and international independent human rights’ committees have shown how AFSPA has become a symbol of cruelty and arbitrariness in these states. They have led to extra-judicial killings, torture, rapes, disappearances and fake encounters. AFSPA has disrupted civilian life. In these states, it is an everyday struggle to save one’s life and honour. So in these states, your claims and promises of development, secularism and corruption hold no meaning until basic human rights are guaranteed to these people. They need to be promised and be given the right to life. Your promises of development are incomplete and impossible without the repeal of AFSPA. Where is the place for your symbols of ‘development’ in the cities torn apart regularly by the repressive state machinery and military? Where schools and public parks are transformed into military camps? How will there be development in the shadows of guns? Your promise of challenging corruption is another utopia. You cannot challenge corruption without challenging AFSPA because AFSPA is the face of corruption- a corruption of humanity. AFSPA has been caught in the blame game. While the state government will put the blame on the centre, the centre will put the blame on army. The army will also justify its stand by blaming the Government’s failure to administer. However, the truth is that AFSPA is a mask. It has many beneficiaries.

All your promises are useless there. The promise of a better future is intertwined with the repeal of AFSPA from these states. You cannot ignore this issue. Repeal of AFSPA is the only way forward. It is the only way forward for a better India. Repeal of AFSPA is a democratic and humanitarian issue. AFSPA is a blot on the world’s largest democracy. It is a shame that Irom Sharmila has entered her 14th year of hunger-strike against AFSPA. It is a shame that while she and her heroic struggle are internationally respected, her own government is not bothered. While her heroic struggle has challenged the conscience of the world, the conscience of her own government remains unchallenged. While her struggle shows her faith in the democratic values of the country, her government has no respect for democracy.

Democracy gives you a platform to contest between each other, but at the same time democracy wants you to be humane. Is your party a humane one? Does your party consider democracy as people’s mandate or is it just another method of acquiring power? Do you support the heroic struggle by people of J&K and North East against brutal and draconian AFSPA?

We want democracy, a democracy without any derogation. A democracy, where humanity should be the foremost promise.

Therefore, we appeal to all political parties who believe in democracy, equality and justice to take up this issue of repeal of AFSPA.

ELECTION 2014- Don’t Forget AFSPA

Issued by,

Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign

Endorsed by:

    1.    Kavita Krishnan, AIPWA Secretary and CPI(ML) Politburo Member
    2.    Vrinda Grover, Advocate and Activist
    3.    Ravi Nitesh, SSSC
    4.    Devika Mittal, SSSC
    5.    V Arun Kumar, AISA
    6.    Kalita Rupam, SSSC
    7.    Aslam Khan, RYA
    8.    Amar Kanwar, Filmmaker and writer
    9.    Meena Saraswathi Seshu, General Secretary Of SANGRAM, Maharashtra
    10.    Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Feminist and human rights activits, Mumbai
    11.    Nilanju Dutta, Jagori
    12.    Vasanth Kannabiran, Asmita Resource Center for Women, Hyderabad
    13.    Rituparna Borah, Queer Feminist Activist, New Delhi
    14.    Prof. Nandini Sundar, Academician and Activist
    15.    N. Jayaram, Journalist
    16.    Shreya Ila Anasuya, Activist
    17.    Queer Feminists India
    18.    Reclaim The Night Delhi
    19.    Lesley A Esteves, Queer Activist, New Delhi
    20.    Shraddha Chickerur, Activist
    21.    Vahida Nainar, Activist
    22.    Dr. Sagari Ramdas
    23.    Mini Mathew, Advocate
    24.    LABIA Queer Feminist LBT Collective, Mumbai
    25.    Nandita Narain, Delhi University
    26.    Ubaid Mushtaq, Scholar, IIT BOMBAY
    27.    Chhaya Datar
    28.    Jinee Lokaneeta
    29.    Rohini Hensman, Writer And Activist
    30.    Kaveri R. I., Hyderabad
    31.    Rakhi Sehgal, Hero Honda Theka Mazdoor Sangathan, Haryana
    32.    Juhi Jain, Feminist Activist/Writer
    33.    Gayatri Buragohain, Foundation For Social Transformation
    34.    Dheeraj Gaba, Founder Of Rooh (A Rural Organization Of Humanity)
    35.    Satyashodhak, Mumbai
    36.    Faisal Khan, Khudai Khidmatgar
    37.    Zaheeb Ajmal, Samar
    38.    Jayachandran R, The Civil Rights And Social Justice Society(CRSJS), Kerala
    39.    Sukla Sen, Ekta (Committee For Communal Amity), Mumbai
    40.    Jawad Mohammed
    41.    Madhu Bala, Jagori
    42.    Saumya Uma, Women’s Research & Action Group (WRAG)
    43.    Ramlath Kavil
    44.    Aruna Burte, Solapur
    45.    Anuradha Kapoor, SWAYAM, Kolkata
    46.    Lalita Ramdas, Activist
    47.    Shruti Batra
    48.    Uma V Chandru, WSS, Bangalore
    49.    Prof. Dr. Vibhuti Patel, SNDT Women’s University
    50.    Deepti, Saheli Women
    51.    Mohammad Imran, Activist
    52.    Voices Against 377
    53.    Dyuti, Student
    54.    Ridhima Mehra
    55.    Richa, Jan Abhiyan Sanstha, Himachal Pradesh
    56.    Abha , Jagori Grameen
    57.    Nimisha, Olakh, Vadodara
    58.    Kavita Panjabi
    59.    Wahengbam Joykumar Singh, Secretary of Human Rights Initiative, Imphal
    60.    Ningthoukhongjam Rajesh, North East News Network
    61.    Walter Fernandes, Scholar and Activist
    62.    Ashim jain, ICAN
    63.    Subhash Mohapatra, Global Human Rights Communications
    64.    Viren Lobo, ICAN
    65.    Prithvi Sharma, ICAN
    66.    Kiran Shaheen, Activist, Journalist, Member-ICAN
    67.    Manzoor Dar, Social Activist, J&K
    68.    Rashmi Talwar, Columnist-Journalist-Writer
    69.    Ameeque Jamei, PCPT
    70.    Jyoti Punwani, Journalist Activist, Mumbai
    71.    Ghazanafar Abbas, Youth Activist and Journalist, Delhi
    72.    D.Gabriele Pennurimai Iyakkam, NAPM
    73.    Antony Arulraj, Hotline Delhi