The horrors civilians face in states where central armed forces operate with immunity granted by AFSPA are simply unimaginable to the rest of the country that swears by ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’ and other overt shows of jingoism. In areas tagged ‘disturbed’ where the Act is enforced, the fundamental right of a citizen enshrined under Article 21, the Right to Life, is rendered meaningless, as security personnel starting from the rank of a havildar in any of the central forces—the army, CRPF, BSF and other paramilitary—can shoot or detain a person on mere grounds of suspicion. So much so, the errant security personnel cannot be tried in any court of law without sanction from the Centre. The Act also empowers personnel to enter and search any premises without warrant as well as destroy or dismantle any structure which is suspected to harbour rebels.
That the Act is in place in Jammu and Kashmir and major parts of the Northeast also means that mainstream media and the public further distance their interest and engagement—with the former, because it is forever tied to the Pakistan angle, and with the later, because of its distance, both physically and emotionally, and the way people from the region are treated with racial bias as outsiders within the country. It is only when there are sensational incidents of excesses committed by armed forces, followed by widespread civil discontent, that AFSPA gets a mention in the national media.