US Embassy sacked staffer over AFSPA report

Supervisors disliked her unbiased report

 A former employee at the American Embassy in New Delhi has alleged that she was forced to resign because her effort to present an unbiased report on the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) was not liked by her supervisors who wanted to highlight only the purported abuses of the controversial law.

Aparna Srivastava, who worked as a political specialist with the American Embassy in New Delhi in 2012, told Deccan Herald that her efforts to incorporate the view of the security forces of India in a presentation on the AFSPA had irked her bosses in the US Embassy.

Srivastava, who was allegedly forced to resign in October 2012, said the US Embassy had last year asked all its missions across the country to send inputs on the AFSPA and its alleged abuses in the troubled areas of Jammu and Kashmir and some of the northeastern states of India.

“What I tried to present in my presentation is that while the AFSPA was being purportedly abused in some areas, the armed forces of the country felt that it was still required. I tried to incorporate the view that repealing the AFSPA might create security problems in some parts of the country,” said Srivastava, who was allegedly forced by the officials of the US Embassy to sign on a pre-drafted resignation letter on October 19, 2012.

When contacted by Deccan Herald, Peter Vrooman, a spokesman of the US Embassy in New Delhi, said that Srivastava was “let go” for “sub-par performance during her probationary employment period”. He did not comment on the Srivastava’s allegation specifically.

The AFSPA, which was passed by Parliament on September 11, 1958, provides the personnel of the armed forces some special powers and immunity against legal actions when they are engaged in the country’s “disturbed areas” to combat militancy.

The human rights activists have since long been demanding the repeal of the AFSPA, alleging that the “draconian law” is being misused by the security personnel to commit excesses during counter-insurgency operations.

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