To scrap sedition law, dilute Jammu and Kashmir special laws

New Delhi: The Congress manifesto promises the people of J&K “talks without pre-conditions” by appointing three interlocutors drawn from the civil society to facilitate such talks.  It has also pledged to scrap an 1870 sedition law if it wins the general election; the Congress has, time and again, accused the government of trying to use the law to suppress dissent and using it against students and social activists.

The pledge drew a sharp rebuke from the BJP which accused it of try to “protect Jihadis and Maoists”. The manifesto has also called for reducing the presence of the Army and the central armed forces in the Valley and entrusting more responsibility to the J&K police for maintaining law and order while deploying more troops on the borders to stop infiltration.

“Uncompromising firmness on the border and ending infiltration and absolute fairness in dealing with the demands of the people and winning their hearts and minds” is the two-pronged approach of the Congress, the manifesto said while calling for amending the AFSPA and the Disturbed Areas Act to balance the requirements of security and protection of human rights.

The Congress has also sought removal of immunity cover of forces under  for enforced disappearance, sexual violence and torture. It also wanted amendment of the laws to bring every investigating agency having powers to search, seize, attach, summon, interrogate and arrest under the restrictions imposed on police.

The Congress has also promised immediate release of all remand and under trial prisoners facing charges punishable with imprisonment of three years or less, who have spent three months in jail. Or those who are facing charges punishable with imprisonment of three to seven years and have spent six months in jail.

It has promised to enact the Prevention of Torture Act to prohibit use of third-degree methods during custody or interrogation and punish cases of torture, brutality and other police excesses. It also wants the state police to reserve 33% vacancies in direct recruitment and promotion for women constables and officers.

The Congress has also promised to make the state police accountable to an independent police accountability commission that will give an annual report to the state legislature and ensure investigations into the cases of communal riots, lynching and gang rapes by a special wing of the state police under the command of the state headquarters of the police.

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