Armed forces are trained to operate in War zone. However in India, due to internal disturbances Army had to be called in certain areas facing internal disturbance. For Army to perform their duties effectively in populated areas,it was felt that Army needed certain special powers. The Government sanctioned these powers by passing Armed Forces Special Powers Act in 1950s.AFSPA provided immunity to Army personnel for their actions when deployed in populated areas to combat insurgency.
The AFSPA Act was first imposed in insurgency hit areas of North East in 1950.Army personnel had powers to shoot down people if they assembled in large numbers; powers to arrest or search without warrant. Later this Act was also imposed in Jammu and Kashmir in 1990 to combat terrorism. Over the years there has been a wide spread public protest against the Act in both Jammu Kashmir and North East. There are several allegations against Army of torture,rape ,and murder. Recently several unmarked graves found in Kashmir lending credence to the allegation that army was committing human right violations. Army on other hand claims that AFSPA is essential for it to effectively fight terror. This is because , unlike in a war zone where enemy can be easily spotted, a terrorist moves with the crowd. There is no denying the fact that army needs adequate autonomy for it to effectively combat terror and insurgency.
For over a decade now there have been demands to repeal AFSPA from various quarters of society. Many allege that legal immunity to army has allowed them to commit human rights violation with impunity. However army has stuck to its stand that AFSPA is necessary for it to fight terrorism and insurgency. A way out of this impasse is to find a middle path that allows for prosecution of army personnel in cases involving gross human right violations and putting in place an internal ombudsman for army to inquire into other cases. This would meet the demands of both army and people while also reinforcing faith of people in its army