That was a fine sunny day when for the first time the question hit my head and left a profound impact in my thought process. Sitting on our class of Journalism, when the professor was briefing us about the Right to Information act, 2005, as primary source of information, he went on and on with how this act dramatically supports and massively proves the greatness of our democracy. I instinctively raised my hand and asked that is the act applicable in the areas enacted with Armed Forces Special Power Act (1958), most obviously referring to the state of Jammu and Kashmir and some states of North East India. And obviously professor coated his not-so-convincing answer with some flowery words like, disturbed area, security of the masses and national issue etc. as our centre always did.
From that day on I am wondering, “Are we really living in a democracy?”
Here is the scenario. You live in a godforsaken area of North Eastern India where the AFSPA is prevailing and on a given day you are in hurry. You went out and a ‘person in uniform’ tried stopping you. You didn’t understand. According to the AFSPA no matter you are a threat to the so called national security or not he can shot you to death, because “after giving due warning, an officer is allowed to open fire or use other kind of force if it causes death too”.
And we call this curtailing of the right to live, democracy?
Someone dashes into your house, arrests you, takes you away and in middle of it as your democratic right you ask for the arrest warrant because you want to know why without any cause they are taking you. But according to AFSPA, an officer is capable of “arresting anyone without warrant who has committed cognizable offence or is reasonably suspected of having done so”.
And we call this curtailing of the right to basic information, Democracy?
Some security personals in uniform storms into a house for ‘investigation’ without any search warrant and goes out raping a girl living there; be it that 13-year-old girl who was raped on October 4, 2003 (who committed suicide, having first narrating her plight to her mother and sister). Not so odd enough but the culprits will be shielded from prosecution by AFSPA, because “army officer have legal immunity for their actions. There can be no prosecution, suits or any other legal proceeding against anyone acting under AFSPA.”
The question should be really asked. Is this really what we call “For the people” democracy? Are the people of these conflict zones really under that famous “We the people”? Are they also not part of this great democracy?
Though, things like Verma Committee is making recommendations to protect women from violence by armed forces in conflict areas. But when these Verma committee recommendations will be implemented? When the people outside these areas will understand that democracy is still really euphoria for some of the people in this country?
The time is now!