Kiran Bedi, former IPS officer and key activist of the Anna Hazare's anti-corruption movement, on Monday said she backs justice JS Verma's recommendations seeking review of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in conflict zones to end immunity to security personnel who commit crime against women under its garb.
"Whether the perpetrator of a rape is a policeman or an army jawan, he should face trial under civil law and not court martial. I fully support the Justice Verma recommendations. It will also end impunity for men in uniform for heinous crimes like rape," said Bedi on the sidelines of a scholarship distribution ceremony at Kashmir University.
Asking senior officials of the police department to stop shielding policemen accused of crime against women, Bedi, a member of the India Against Corruption, said, "Senior officials who maintain silence over the crime against women are equally responsible."
"As an inspector general of police, if I come to know that a policeman has committed rape in custody and will not take action against the culprit, I am equally responsible for the crime," said Bedi, while advocating implementation of the recommendations.
"(If implemented), only then, the security personnel will be protectors and not betrayers. It will ensure safety of women in the country," she added.
The Justice Verma committee on Wednesday suggested that sexual offences by armed forces and uniformed men in conflict areas should be brought under ordinary criminal law.
The Kashmir civil society, separatists and mainstream political parties too have welcomed the recommendations. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is planning an all-party meeting to push for implementation of the recommendations.
On the defence ministry's reservations in adopting the recommendations, Bedi, said, "They have right to accept it or oppose it since these are recommendations till the government accepts them.... I am only giving you personnel opinion as a police officer. I am only saying as police officer what is right to do. It is for army to decide what they want."
Bedi, who distributed cheques of scholarship among the students, praised the talent of students from the state.
"It is great to see students from Jammu and Kashmir, particularly Kashmir, making it to the prestigious civil service exams like IAS and IPS with some of them topping at national level. This shows that the students of J&K are highly talented but what they need is the right kind of exposure, proper guidance and financial support from various institutions like banks and colleges to fulfill their ambitions."
Dr Anshu Kataria, chairman of Aryans Group of Colleges, Chandigarh, said that around 250 students from Jammu and Kashmir have joined Aryans Group of colleges over the last two years who were financially supported by J&K Bank.