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The government's reaction to the Delhi gangrape is being compared with the cases in which the armed forces are accused of committing rape and sexual assault here. Among the recommendations of the Justice Verma committee that the government didn't accept was the need to remove immunity under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) to armed forces personnel charged with rape and sexual assault. Justice Verma's committee had asked the government to allow such cases to be tried in civilian courts without the prior permission of the Central government.
The only time the Supreme Court has intervened and taken suo moto cognisance of deaths in Kashmir was in the case of the deaths of pilgrims during the Amarnath yatra last year. This issue was certainly important and the intervention of the apex court made the administrative machinery more accountable. But these were not the first deaths in Kashmir to raise serious questions for the government to answer.
The questions about the double standards practised by New Delhi with regard to Kashmir are no longer a part of the rebel discourse alone; they are being raised by mainstream politicians as well. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah questioned this double standard in the response to the barbarity of rape. If it is not a standard operating procedure of the armed forces to rape women during operations in Kashmir, he said, they should not seek legal immunity under AFSPA. His demand for the revocation of AFSPA from select places where the army wasn't even deployed was turned down, he says, "because [the] army's convoy routes pass through these areas and they don't want to ply their vehicles without the immunity of this special law". He has pointed to the recent attack in Chhattisgarh where an air force chopper was hit, and asked why there isn't a clamour for AFSPA in that state.