More than 130 complaints of human rights abuse were filed against the army during the last six years in Jammu and Kashmir, but the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) shielded the soldiers.
Defence Minister A K Antony told Rajya Sabha last week that 133 complaints were made against army between 2004 and ’09.
The state government made 38 requests to prosecute soldiers but permission was not granted by the Centre. The AFSPA prohibits prosecutions from being initiated without the go-ahead from the Centre, if the allegations are linked to the public duty of the accused.
Activists have alleged that the Act has become a tool of state abuse. But the military defends it saying soldiers need special protection to discharge duties in J&K and Northeast.
Colin Gonsalves, a Supreme Court lawyer, said, “Security forces have not been accountable to the people of Kashmir. This has led to alienation of the population. It is shocking that sanction to prosecute was not granted even in a single case.”
The home ministry has finalised amendments to the Act to restrict powers of security forces to shoot at sight. The ministry is open to removing the overt reference to “causing death” as a permissible consequence of firing by a jawan and setting up a grievance redressal mechanism to deal with complaints abuse.