Ever since the creation of India and Pakistan as independent states took place in August 1947, Kashmir has been a contentious issue. Since Kashmir was a small, princely state to the North of India, under the rule of Maharaja Hari Singh when India and Pakistan got their independence, Kashmir had the option of acceding its territory with either Pakistan or India. But due to the attacks at Kashmir by Pakistani forces and revolutionaries in 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh decided to accede with India to protect his territory. This marked the beginning of a series of clashes between India and Pakistan, which includes four major wars. Kashmir became the primary subject of the conflicts between the two states. Pakistan demanded Kashmir with the fact that most of the Kashmiri population were Muslims. On the other hand, India claimed this territory based on the fact that Maharaja Hari Singh had signed the document to accession with it.
Several battles have fought over and within Kashmir which led to the enactment of the Armed Forces (Special Forces) Act by the Indian Government in 1990. This act granted special powers of the army in “disturbed area.” Such powers allows the army to use force which can result to death, enter suspicious premises, arrest suspicious individuals without any warrant, and also this act provides legal immunity to army officials for their actions.
However, AFSPA has been majorly criticized by many human rights activists. The act fails to describe “disturbed areas.” Then it leads to a huge military crowds in and around Kashmir region. The appearance of so much military personnel hampers the “normalcy” of the region. Most of the time, due to clashes between the Kashmiris and the military the region remains under curfew. Regular curfews created negative externalizes on the population there. Children cant go to school and colleges regularly which leads to illiteracy. Only children from the richer section who can afford to move out of the region can afford to get quality education. Working people cant go to their workplace, local businessmen cant afford to run there businesses properly. All these causes huge economical and social loss for the entire Jammu and Kashmir region. Thousands of young children have grown up, and continue to grow up seeing military personnel all around them. This creates a negative image in their mind. They would feel that they have been cages within some boundaries and they are not and never will be allowed to move out of that line. As a result, organisations like Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front have demanded the freedom of Kashmir from India.
The biggest criticism of AFSPA, however, has been the Human Rights violations it has led to in Kashmir valley. Numerous concerned people from the Human Right divisions have opposed the state politically, by questioning the militarization of the region and the existence of AFSPA. According to survey reports, 322 people were reportedly detained under the AFSPA between January and October,2010. Human Rights watch alleged that thousands cases of disappearances since 1989. Human Rights Watch also claims that the torture by AFSPA is immense in every part of Jammu and Kashmir. Uncountable numbers of rape cases and molestation have been found. Although hardly a few of these cases were reported because of obvious reasons. It has also been found that militants are frequently executed by the security forces without trials just because they pose a security threat. Case like children of 8 to 12 years were shot dead while playing cricket boils the blood of any Kashmiri to get away with the draconian AFSPA. The Justice Verma committee, in January 2013, stated that AFSPA needs to be revised regarding the protection of women and children in conflict areas.
During his six- years tenure of former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah constantly demanded for gradual withdrawal of AFSPA from peaceful areas of Jammu and Kashmir. But the Indian Army denied his proposals. They even denied to remove AFSPA from places like Srinigar, Budgam and Jammu which can be easily tackled only by the Jammu and Kashmir police. It has been noticed that regarding the AFSPA, the union doesn’t open their mouth much and leave the decision to be taken by the security forces. On the other hand, if we critically think, then is it not quite obvious that the defense would never want AFSPA to be removed form Jammu and Kashmir because due to this draconian law, the defence gets all the control over the region and do whatever they feel like. Since AFSPA has the highest authority, it is understood that they would never want to leave Jammu and Kashmir.
As per my understanding, AFSPA should only be at the Line Of Control region in order to protect the security of the state. The places like Srinagar and others where Kashmiris live should be controlled by J&K police only. This would help India to get back Kashmiris. Indian Government seems to be more bothered about the geographical regions of Jammu and Kashmir while with this draconian law of AFSPA they are losing the people of Kashmir. Lot of Kashmiri don’t believe them to be a part of India and believes in Kashmiri Nationalism. This is the negative externalities of having AFSPA.
Its high time now for the Government to do away with AFSPA and get back the Kashmiris to have all the people of the geographical territory under the same umbrella of Indian nationalism.