Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat on Sunday said that time has not come for any rethink on AFSPA or making some of its provisions milder.
Asserting that the Army has been taking adequate precautions in protecting human rights while operating in disturb areas like Jammu and Kashmir.Rawat’s remarks assume significance as they come against the backdrop of reports that several rounds of high-level discussions have taken place between the defence and home ministries on the “need to remove or dilute at least some provisions” of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
“I do not think time has come to even rethink on AFSPA at the moment,” Gen Rawat told reporters in New Delhi.
The Army chief said though AFSPA has certain strong provisions, the Army is concerned about collateral damages and ensuring that its operations under the law do not inconvenience the local people.
“We have never been strong in applying the force the way it could be applied (under AFSPA). We are very concerned about human rights. We are absolutely concerned about collateral damage. So do not get too much concerned because we are taking adequate measures and precautions,” he said.
Gen Rawat said the Army has rules of engagements for various operations at every level to ensure that no inconvenience is caused to the people while it is operating under AFSPA.
“The AFSPA is an enabling provision which allows the Army in particular to operate in such difficult areas and let me assure you that the Army has got quite a good human rights record,” he said.
The Supreme Court last year in a judgement in connection with imposition of AFSPA in Manipur said that every death caused by the armed forces in a disturbed area, whether the victim is a dreaded criminal or a militant or a terrorist or an insurgent, should be thoroughly enquired into.