The Congress Manifesto says, “The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and the Disturbed Areas Act in Jammu and Kashmir will be reviewed. Suitable changes will be made in the text of the laws to balance the requirements of security and the protection of human rights”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took up the issue at a rally in Siliguri, West Bengal. He questioned how the Congress manifesto could think of reviewing AFSPA’s which protects the security forces from the terrorists.
BJP President Amit Shah warned the Congress that the BJP is standing like a rock against AFSPA’s removal.
Besides AFSPA review, to other promises like repeal of sedition, the BJP says law enforcement agencies have been forced on the back foot with their hands and legs bound. This, they suggest, indirectly empower maoists, separatists and terrorists.
The Congress party in its manifesto proposes to “omit” IPC Section 124 A which deals with sedition alleging its misuse and redundancy. The Congress manifesto also proposes to scrap IPC Section 499 on criminal defamation, making it a civil offence instead.
Senior BJP leader and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman charged the Congress Party with showing scant respect for the supreme sacrifice of Security personnel, because despite saying they would accord ‘Martyrs’ status to armed forces personnel who die in the line of duty.
The Congress is putting them in the line of fire after removing their protections. She took this point further by highlighting the weakening of powers of the district magistrate as well to take pre-emptive measures to prevent unlawful assemblies via social media.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley too had tweeted wondering whether the Congress’ consultations with Lt General Hooda were mere optics.
“Lt. General D.S. Hooda submitted his report to the Congress President on 31st March, 2019. Had any of the objected suggestions on National Security been suggested in the Hooda Report? It appears that committee was only for optics.”
Clearly the Congress’ election manifesto is causing a few problems for them, on a key Central Govt function of National Security.