Shillong: The Meghalaya High Court has directed the central government to enforce the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, (AFSPA) 1958 in the insurgency-ravaged districts of Garo Hills to control the deteriorating law and order situation in the state.
The high court also directed the union home secretary and defence secretary to ensure compliance by placing this order before the central government to consider the use of AFSPA and deployment of armed and para-military forces in the Garo Hills.
It further directed the principal secretary in the PMO to place the order before Prime Minister Narendra Modi for perusal and consideration.
The order of the full bench of Chief Justice Uma Nath Singh, Justice T.N.K. Singh and Justice S.R. Sen, issued late Monday, is significant coming in the wake of the recent kidnapping and killing of an Intelligence Bureau officer Bikash Kumar Singh and businessman Kamal Saha by A’chik Songna An’pachakgipa Kotok militants and abduction of government official Jude Rangku T. Sangma by Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) militants. Sangma was released early Tuesday.
“We have no option but to direct the central government to consider the use of AFSPA in the Garo Hills area and deployment of armed and para-military forces to control the situation in the aid of but certainly not under the command of civil and police authorities till life becomes normal and the incidents of rampant kidnapping and killing are totally stopped,” the court noted.
“We are also not oblivious of the fact that with great power comes great responsibility to exercise self-restraint, especially in the exercise of powers under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, but now since the law and order situation in the Garo Hills has deteriorated beyond redemption, we have no option but to issue certain serious directions in order to protect the civil liberties and fundamental rights of the common citizens as well as the public servants,” the order stated.
Maintaining that the central government can enforce AFSPA for the purpose of deployment of armed forces in the aid of civil administration in order to restore public order and maintain the law and order, the court said: “Such deployment of armed forces would be only for the purpose of enabling the civil authorities in the state to deal with the situation effectively so that there is a regime of rule of law.”
Observing that there was no end to violent incidents perpetrated by Garo National Liberation Army and other militants, including calling bandhs in Garo Hills, the court said: “… the police and civil authorities, despite the best of their efforts, are not able to control the incidents of kidnapping for ransom and killings on non-fulfilment of illegal demands and the native population is totally exposed to the influence of militancy, and the funds allocation by the Central Government has not helped in ameliorating the decline of law and order”.
In its 13-page order, the court also quoted data supplied by the Meghalaya Police on the abduction of 87 people — 25 civilians, 27 businessmen, 25 private sector employees, five government employees and five teachers — for ransom in different parts of Garo Hills from January to October 31 by Garo militants.
“It is also informed that the majority of Garo population reside in villages and they are basically dependent upon agriculture for their livelihood. Though the population is just about seven lakh, yet they are not feeling secured and they have to live totally exposed to the mercy of insurgents who raise all kinds of illegal demands, including food and shelter,” the order said.
Pointing out that even the chief justice and judges of the high court were getting “veiled threats” through anonymous letters, the bench said: “It may not be proper for us to say anything about our security which is, for the present, being looked after by the state.
“Generally, we put all such anonymous letters into shredders but since two of us are to lay our office in January and February, 2016, and third one in March, 2019, one cannot claim to be fully safe and secured.”
The court has fixed November 18 as the next date for hearing of the matter.
NEW DELHI: Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Sunday attacked the Narendra Modi-led central government after the prices of cooking gas was again hiked, asking him to “vacate the ‘Sinhasan’ (post of the Prime Minister)”.
“Mehangi gas, mehanga rashan. Band karo khokala bhashan. Dam bandho kam do. Warna khali karo sinhasan (Expensive gas, expensive ration. Stop making hollow promises. Fix the rates and give employment or else vacate the post),” Rahul Gandhi tweeted attaching a news report of the hike.
India prides itself on its so called diversity but these are just plain talks. The real situation on the ground is terrible for all Northeasterners, especially womenfolk. People from Northeast are racially abused by mainland Indians as "chinkis" This derogatory term means an individual with slanted eyes.
The author spent several years in Delhi and sadly witnessed numerous unfortunate incidents in Delhi involving shoddy treatment of Northeast women and girls especially by Jats of urban villages like Katwaria Sarai, Ber Sarai and Munirka.
Northeastern states of India comprises of Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim & Mizoram. This region is also referred to as the Seven Sisters. The physical characteristics of the inhabitants of these states are different than the Indian people. Due to which they face racial discrimination in other parts of the country.
Northeasterners have oriental looks and are hard-working, friendly people. Matriarchy is practised among many groups in the Northeast. Successive Indian governments neglected this whole region, as a result it has stayed backwards in terms of infrastructure.
Tourists need special permits from the government authorities to visit many regions of Northeast India. In 1958, the Indian government passed a law, the Armed Forces Special Act (AFSPA) that applies to various seven Northeastern states. This grants security forces the power to search properties without a warrant, to arrest people and to use deadly force if there is “reasonable suspicion” that a person is acting against the state.
Army officers have legal immunity for their actions as per AFSPA; there can be no prosecution, suit or any other legal proceeding against anyone acting under this law. Indian army frequently misuses its power by harassing the residents of Northeast region under the pretext of this draconian law.
Social Exclusion of the Seven Sisters
An activist from Manipur, Irom Chanu Sharmila holds the world record as the longest hunger striker”. Sharmila grew up in Manipur, one of the Seven Sister States in India’s northeast, which has suffered from continuous neglect by the Indian government for decades.
Sharmila’s primary demand to the Indian government has been the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA).
She started her fast in Malom on 5 November 2000 and vowed not to eat, drink, comb her hair or look in a mirror until AFSPA was repealed. She ended her hunger strike on 9 August 2016 after 16 years of fasting. Sadly, AFSPA is still in force. Ordinary people of Northeast India are tormented by Delhi through its army.
No major industry exists in this region, therefore, the employment prospects for the locals are practically non-existent. Basic infrastructure like roads and electricity supply is not up to the mark in this area. Youngsters from these parts migrate to big cities of India like Delhi, Bombay, Bangalore etc. to find jobs.
The women of North East are good looking and fashion conscious. Majority of Indian males are sexually frustrated perverts. They harass Northeast women on a daily basis. People from Northeast are racially abused by mainland Indians as “chinkis”, This derogatory term means an individual with slanted eyes.
The same abusive word is also used by the majority of Indians while referring to the Chinese citizens. State of affairs is dreadful in New Delhi, which is the capital city of India. Delhi has many localities known as Urban Villages. These places are just villages in a name. They do not have any farming land.
Owners of houses in these neighborhoods have got tall buildings erected by flouting all building laws, regulations in order to build the maximum number of rooms and put them on rent to earn easy tax-free cash. Northeast migrants to Delhi are overcharged higher rents by these deceitful landlords.
Urban villages, especially in areas around South Delhi are dominated in particular by a community known as ‘Jats’. They own most of the houses in these parts.
The Jat community comprises of male chauvinists of the worst kind on this planet. They earn huge tax-free income every month as rent from Northeasterners and other migrants to Delhi; as a result, most of them don’t do much productive work. They just sit in groups, play cards and drink liquor from morning-night.
All Indian political parties are scared of Jats as they resort to hooliganism to blackmail central as well as state governments in order to get concessions for their community.
These Jat men have made the life of Northeastern women in Delhi a living hell. These Northeastern women cannot go back to their homes in Northeast because they face sexual violence at the hands of Indian army personnel furthermore; there are no job prospects in the region. They are teased, sexually harassed and even raped by these unscrupulous Jat house owners and their family members.
Delhi Police also has plenty of Jat personnel so, these poor, unfortunate Northeast women cannot even complain about their ordeal to the Police.
A few women, who gather the courage to approach police stations to lodge complaints are ridiculed and abused by the Police staff as women of loose character, ‘chinki whores’ etc.
Northeasterners are highly depressed and frustrated due to this daily ordeal. Their culture, language, food habits and norms are all entirely different from the mainland Indians.
Does Unity in Diversity really exist in India?
India prides itself on its so called diversity but these are just plain talks. The real situation on the ground is terrible for all Northeasterners, especially womenfolk.
The citizens of all seven Northeastern states should not tolerate this discrimination anymore. They must pressurize their local politicians to raise this matter seriously with the central government in Delhi alternatively, they could completely boycott their so called political representatives.
“No taxation without representation”, this slogan originated during the 1750’s and 1760’s in U.S.A. It summarized the primary grievance of American colonists in the thirteen colonies against the British Parliament. This ultimately culminated in the successful American Revolution.
No voting without safety & respect
Northeastern citizens across the entire length and breadth of India should unite under the slogan; “No voting without safety & respect.”
Election Commission of India has introduced NOTA (None of the above) on the ballot papers as an option for the voters. It means that the voter does not find any political party’s candidate competent enough, that’s why they exercise the NOTA option by not voting for a candidate of any political party.
If, the ordinary residents of all seven northeastern states unite together and press NOTA during all state assembly as well as Parliamentary elections, then their local politicians, as well as political parties in Delhi, would definitely wake up to their serious grievances and initiate measures to prevent this dastardly treatment meted out to Northeast citizens in India.
Footnote– This composition is dedicated to three beautiful, kind, compassionate, independent & friendly girls from Northeast India. Suzie, Tanya and Mikii were friends of the author in Delhi during the late 1990’s before we lost contact with each other. These girls were unfortunate victims of numerous atrocities perpetrated on them by Jats.
The writer sincerely hopes that all three of them are presently leading happy, peaceful lives somewhere and women from the Northeast region of India do not face any future trauma in Delhi as well as other cities in India.
– The author is a Master Degree holder in International Tourism & Leisure Studies from Netherlands and is based in China.
Cases of sexual violence, including rape, fall within the larger realm of domestic violence
Marital rape is yet to be categorized as a criminal offence in India
According to the central government, criminalizing marital rape “may destabilize the institution of marriage”
New Delhi, September 2, 2017 : Baby works as a domestic help; she says she cannot recall her age when her parents married her off to a man who was much older to her; a man she barely knew. She didn’t anticipate her husband would demand to have intercourse on their wedding night. She was still young and not ready, but that didn’t stop him. Baby was raped by her husband on her wedding night. But marital rape means nothing to her.
Sunita irons clothes for a living. She says has been married for more years than she can remember. The duo has four kids together, but that doesn’t stop her husband from raising a hand or two on her, every once in a while. Every night, her husband would get drunk, hit her and forcefully demand to have sex, paying no heed to her resistance. Sunita has three daughters, and a son, and the husband still wants to have progenies. “I told my mother that this man has raped me multiple times. She protested, arguing that he is ‘your husband’ after all,” she said.
But did she never decide to approach the authorities?
To this, Sunita promptly replied, “I once had a sore eye after he (the husband) hit me with his shoe when I refused to have sex. I went to the local hospital and then the police. I narrated the entire scene; they were very considerate, offered me water and then asked me to go home and ‘adjust’.”
Sunita is unaware of a term called ‘marital rape’.
This is the reality of a huge part of the society in real India.
Like Baby and Sunita, women who suffer such indignities are often asked to “adjust” with perpetrators of violence because of a deep –embedded fear of what the society would say. This notion of an ‘ideal woman’ impedes women to object to illicit treatment meted out by their ‘better halves’.
The debate around the issue has become ripe once again with the Central Government stating that what “may appear to be marital rape” to a wife “may not appear so to others”. In an affidavit to the Delhi High Court, the central government took a stand against criminalizing marital rape saying that it “may destabilize the institution of marriage” and also become easy tool for harass the husbands and the in-laws.
Rape is defined in Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, but with an irregularity: “Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.”
While rape is addressed as perforation without a woman’s accord in its main clause, the only remedy to forced intercourse provided to ‘married’ woman is specified under Section 498-A of the IPC and the civil provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestiic Violence Act.
Following the horrific 2012 Nirbhaya rape case that brought the entire world to a standstill, the Indian media has given paramount coverage to instances of rape across the country. But even after 5 years of the gut-wrenching incident, there seems no end to this crime.
Cases of sexual violence, including rape, fall within the larger realm of domestic violence. However, rape by husbands within holy matrimony continues to remain an obscure subject in India and the exact number of cases is hard to gauge.
According to a 2015 report by National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) tracing the proximity of offenders to the victims of sexual violence, it was revealed that in 95 per cent of all rapes, the offenders were familiar to the survivors. These, presumably include acquaintances, friends, relatives and colleagues.
And what about rape committed by husbands?
In light of the debate over marital rape, a reminder: if you actually ask women, almost all the sexual violence they face is from husbands pic.twitter.com/BRVXk0cbbJ
These cases continue to be an under-reported crime in India. This can be attributed to two major reasons,
Because of the stigma associated with it
Because of the presence of a defunct justice system
Furthermore, more often than not, these cases go missing because of several additional (and unnecessary) barriers stemming from a combination of familial and/or social power structures, shame and dependency.
Marital Rape In India
While most of the developed world has penalized marital rape, surprisingly it is yet to be categorized as an offence in India.
A United Nations’ report titled ‘Why do some men use violence against women and how can we prevent it?’ published in 2013 disclosed that nearly a quarter of 10,000 men in Asia-Pacific region, including India, admitted to have indulged in the rape of a female partner. The report traced their rationale to a deep-embedded belief that they are entitled to sex despite the consent of their partners.
The study also revealed that the majority of these instances were not reported and the perpetrators faced no legal consequences.
In 2014, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in association with International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW) brought out a report titled ‘Masculinity, Intimate Partner Violence and Son Preference in India’. Among other things, the report analyzed the average Indian male’s understanding and interpretation of the idea of ‘masculinity’ and how that molds their interactions with women.
Not surprisingly, the study revealed that a typical man in the Indian society associated the attributes ‘tough’, and ‘controlling’ with masculinity.
Segments of the present day Indian society continue to look at men as tough forces, who can (must) freely exercise their privilege to establish rule in personal relationships and above all, continue to control women.
Additionally, the study also revealed that 60 per cent of the Indian men disclosed the use of physical violence to establish authority.
In India, stiff patriarchal norms continue to tilt the gender balance firmly in the favor of men, as a result of which, women are forced to internalize male dominance in their lives.
Marital Rape in India : A Legal Perspective
Section 375 essentially distinguishes between two categories of women
Much to the Indian society’s disappointment, the Indian legal system denies protection from rape to the married woman. This creates discrimination as the women belonging to one section are denied justice merely by virtue of being married.
But can there be two different definitions of rape? Can there be a differentiation between the rape of a married woman and the rape of an unmarried woman? Is it justified to discriminate a woman just because she is married to the man who has raped her?
The Debate Around Marital Rape In India
Despite the piquant situation, the issue raised furor when Minister of State for Home, Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary told the Parliament that the question of criminalizing marital rape in India has no relevance “as marriage is treated as sacred here.”
Does marriage being a sacrament provide one with the legal right to rape a woman?
South Asia director at Human Rights Watch Meenakshi Ganguly had retaliated saying that it is particularly concerning when a government that claims to secure the safety of women inside and outside national territory shamelessly turn to justify a crime in the name of culture and tradition.
India can learn something from its neighbours. Nepal has laws against marital rape, so does Bhutan
Group director of social and economic development at the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW) Priya Nanda asserted in an interview with a leading portal that “the reason men don’t want to criminalize marital rape is because they don’t want to give a woman the power to say no.”
In 2013, a three-member commission headed by Justice J.S. Verma suggested remedial measures to combat sexual violence in India, following the 2012 Nirbhaya rape case. One of its recommendations was the criminalization of marital rape.
The recommendation was ignored by the government as a large amount of people questioned its efficiency saying if made a crime,
It might be misused by people
It will be difficult to prove
It might break up marriages
But, how fair is it to not have a law against marital rape, only because of the reason that it is ‘difficult to prove’?
In a broader understanding, it needs to be understood that the criminalization of marital rape must not be viewed as a step against men or the institution of matrimony, but as an attempt to demolish the patriarchal system that continues to clutch the Indian society.
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