When Generals rebirth as Governors in Northeast India
If a chief minister in
There are plentiful examples in
The appointment of Gen (Retired) Joginder Jaswant Singh as the governor of Arunachal Pradesh on January 24 has stimulated the same question among the conscious citizens of the trouble torn region. Retired from service last year, Gen Singh, who was honoured with the Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM), Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM) and Vishisht Seva Medal (VSM) during his four-decade long career, has joined two serving governors in the insurgency stricken Northeast, who are also from the defence background.
Lieutenant general (retired) Ajai Singh, PVSM, AVSM took over the responsibility as the governor of
The governor under the provisions of the Indian Constitution enjoys the right to be kept informed of all major decisions adopted by the state government. Moreover, the governor appoints the chief minister and also appoints the council of ministers of the state following the advice of the chief minister. The governor summons the state legislature and also dissolves the legislative assembly. He addresses the legislature. Each and every bill passed by the state legislature must be endorsed by the governor before it becomes law. In a particular situation, the governor can send a report to the President of India that may invite the President's Rule after dissolving the state legislative assembly.
However, there are plentiful examples in
"In the insurgency-hardened Northeast, democratic
The restive Northeast region, surrounded by Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet (now under Chinese territory), Burma and Bangladesh, is tenuously connected to the mainland India and has long been beset by numerous insurgencies.
The Northeast has a volatile stew of militant organizations, most of them ethnically based. According to some counts, there are as many as 35 such groups in the region, some of them Islamist. Armed groups use the jungles of southern
One classic example that reflects the attitude of New Delhi towards the people of Northeast is the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) which has been in force in the region for five decades now. The AFSPA empowers the security forces to arrest people without warrant, and use excessive force (including shooting or killing, even if the lives of the members of the security force are not at imminent risk). It facilitates impunity because no person can initiate legal action against any member of the armed forces for anything done under the Act, without permission of the central government. It was first applied to
A northeastern lady has raised the voice against AFSPA with a unique way. The young Manipuri lady started her hunger strike in November 2000 and unbelievably enough, she has been continuing her fast till date. In fact, Irom Chanu Sharmila has changed the face of protest in the insurgency stricken region with her non-violent agitation against a black law. Now surviving on nasal feeding, Sharmila has already been recognized as a mesmerizing agitator by the human rights activists from different parts of the globe. Presently kept in a security ward of a local hospital in the Manipur capital, the iron lady, who takes inspiration from the Father of Indian Nation (Mahatma Gandhi), has already booked a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest surviving fasting individual in the world for a social cause. Sharmila also won the '2007 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights' (
Dr Sandeep Pandey, a Magsaysay Awardee expressed deep anguish that New Delhi had ignored the recommendations of a recent committee to repeal the black law. The Justice Jeevan Reddy Commission (2004), which organized public hearings in various parts of Northeast, recommended the repeal of AFSPA, but the government was not convinced. Earlier, Veerappa Moily Administrative Reforms Committee also favored the same initiative in vain.
It will be a real difficult task to find an example anywhere in the democratic world, where a black law like AFSPA could continue for such a long period even after popular uprising against it. AFSPA simply violates the Indian Constitutions in regard to right to life, the right against arbitrary arrest and detention, the rules of the Indian Criminal Procedure Code relating to arrests, searches and seizures, and almost all relevant international human rights principles.
So whenever there is news of the appointment of a retired general as a governor in Northeast, the pertinent question that arises is whether
The author is a Guwahati (
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