Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Cong’s poll promise to amend AFSPA will weaken armed forces: Sitharaman
Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday slammed the Congress party’s manifesto saying that its proposal to amend the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) was insidious and was aimed at weakening the armed forces.
The Congress manifesto, released on Tuesday in New Delhi by party president Rahul Gandhi, says if it is voted to power, it would “Amend the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 in order to strike a balance between the powers of security forces and the human rights of citizens and to remove immunity for enforced disappearance, sexual violence and torture.”
Addressing a press conference, Sitharaman, said the Congress’s manifesto clearly undermined the armed forces and if implemented would “make the armed forces hands and feet tied so that they cannot function”.
“Is this right? It is an effort to weaken the armed forces. They are trying to dilute the immunity of our security forces,” the defence minister said at a press briefing.
She said, “The armed forces are fighting with their lives to protect this nation from those people who are playing like locals sometimes and creating terror among people... what is this amendment’s object?”
Coming down hard on the proposed amendment, she said, “Why should it be presumed that the powers of the security forces are opposed to human rights. This is an attempt to weaken the armed forces. Congress’s promise insidious.”
She said that if the AFSPA is removed or amended as proposed by the Congress, “it will impact on the security doctrine, both internally and externally”.
She also went on to question the Congress’s recent statement after the Pulwama terror attack to get “martyr” status for those jawans who died on duty.
“Even now they get the status of battle casualty in armed forces or operational casualty in paramilitary forces. They also all the benefits that are due to them,” she said.
“Why does your manifesto not say anything about giving martyr status to the jawans killed in action?” she asked the Congress.