NEW DELHI: Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958 (which gives protection to security forces in disturbed areas) along with Meghalaya Preventive Detention Act (MPDA) and Meghalaya Maintenance of Public Order (MMPO) Act have been termed “draconian” during the North-East Consultation on Human Rights organized by the North East Students Organization (NESO) and hosted by the Khasi Students' Union (KSU).

The day-long consultation was held to solicit opinions essentially on AFSPA,1958 and was resolved to sensitize the student community of the North East on the consequences of imposition of AFSPA in the region.

Nevertheless,it was unanimously resolved that not merely AFSPA but other draconian laws like MMPO Act and MPDA should also be repealed with immediate effect.

With respect to AFSPA, Meghalaya's former Chief Information Commissioner G P Wahlang said "It gives blanket protection to security force and this is bad. It gives protection for any Act done or purported to be done by them (forces) in exercise of the power, under the Act and this resulted in irresponsible activities”.

NESO Secretary General Sinam Prakash alleged the exercise of special powers has also gone way beyond the “limited purpose” as the military stationed in the 'disturbed areas' have indulged in rampant violation of the human rights including aerial bombing, grouping and regrouping, enforced 'disappearances', extrajudicial executions, rape and sexual violence.

On similar grounds, the two laws in Meghalaya which are being massively campaigned against, MMPO Act and MPDA were also described as tyrannical.

Several prominent pressure groups, including the Thma-U-Rangli-Juki (TUR), a progressive people’s organisation, have been protesting and campaigning against these two acts and have accused the State Government of misusing and abusing them since they take away people’s right to oppose.

It is pertinent to mention here that MPDA was passed in 1995 and MMPO Act in 1947 were adopted by the State with the sole intention to suppress the voice of the people in raising objection against the wrongdoings of the State Government.

It was demanded during the consultation to repeal these two acts immediately.

In another resolution, a decision was taken to translate the AFSPA text and other related literature into vernacular languages.

Several other resolutions were also adopted. These include using the existing human rights mechanisms like the National Human Rights Commission, State Human Rights Commission, Women’s Commission, RTI Commission etc to protect the human rights, as was urged by the Wahlang, former Meghalaya CIC.

Also, it was decided to pressure the Members of Parliament from the North East region to raise the issue of repeal AFSPA in the Parliament and to ensure that the issue of repeal of AFSPA is in the list of priorities of NESO.