Meet on army act

Shillong, Nov 21 : A renewed call to repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act was made here today during a meeting between the National Security Advisory Board and selected members of civil society hailing from various states of the Northeast.

“Although different views were expressed, the general view of the civil society members was that it could be amended or repealed,” the chairman of the board, Naresh Chandra, told reporters after he held a daylong meeting with civil society groups.

On whether the board would recommend to the Centre to amend or repeal the act, Chandra said, “We will be preparing a report. We are just an advisory body at a very high level and we will carry the views of the people to the Centre. But it will be up to the Centre to take the final call.”

The army act was passed on September 11, 1958, and grants special powers to the armed forces in the “disturbed areas” of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura.

It was extended to Jammu and Kashmir in July 1990.

Moreover, Chandra said civil society groups stressed on the importance of augmenting relations with Bangladesh in a bid to boost trade and commerce with the neighbouring country.

“Positive ideas emerged and we got a number of ideas to promote economic development and entrepreneurship for young persons,” he said.

The board members were also informed of the deficiencies in education, infrastructure and the need to improve connectivity besides exploring the possibility of putting in place inland water transport.

“We have taken note of specific problems relating to education and gender discrimination. The members also raised the issue of environmental degradation besides what more can be done for greater participation of women in the legislative and administrative bodies,” Chandra said.