IMPHAL, March 16: Concerted people's movement against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has slowed down and the public leaders and activists have acknowledged about the development. However, these activists feel that though the volatile public movement which was witnessed in 2004 in Manipur against the AFSPA may not come up again in the near future but movement against the draconian Act is very much alive and kicking.
Sharing her views on the issue, Ningreichon Tungshang, a member of Naga People's Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR) based in New Delhi, said the people's movement against the AFSPA is very much there but due to the divisions among the human rights groups in a place like in the North East region has been the hiccups in the campaign.
"The campaign itself has no clarity. Political interest comes first and the common interest later. The campaigns are today diversed into ethnic lines. These are the problems," said the NPMHR leader.
Noted scholar and vocal rights crusader Dr Lokendra Arambam is of the opinion that owing to the cropping up of issues after issues in a state like Manipur, the public movement against AFSPA like the one experienced in Manipur in 2004 may not be seen again in the near future.
"But the people's attitude or feeling towards the AFSPA remains the same," said Dr Arambam. He said these days people are pre-occupied with several issues confronting them other than AFSPA.
In the year 2004, Manipur was literally on fire demanding the scrapping of the draconian law. The public agitation was triggered by the raping and murder of one Thangjam Manorama Devi by the personnel of Assam Rifles. The state government had to promulgate curfew for several days and the unrest was continued for about three months.
Sharing is views, senior jounalist in Manipur Irengbam Arun said though there may not be a strong public movement against the AFSPA but the campaign against the Act will go on.
"It is not predictable however. If some incident crops up that has potential enough to ignite people's sentiment the public will definitely take their ire to the streets," said Irengbam Arun.
President of All Manipur Working Journalists Union (AMWJU) A Mobi has similar views. He said he agrees that the public movement against the draconian act has slowed down. "But the campaign will never die though we may not witness again the strong movement in the near future," added A Mobi.
However, former convenor of Naga People's Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR) Phamhring Sengul has different view. He said though the people's movement against the Act has slowed down, any time things may erupt again as the public is very bitter towards the AFSPA.