Indian media: 'Redundant' suicide law

Boy with hands on head Image copyright SPL
Image caption Reports say suicide has become the second leading cause of death among India's young adults

Media in India welcome the government's decision to scrap a law that punishes "attempt to suicide" with imprisonment.

Papers back the move, saying the law was "redundant" and "inhuman" because it included a fine or a jail term up to one year.

"Imagine the horror of a person who tries to commit suicide but fails and finds himself facing a prison sentence for the 'crime'. It is a double blow really for the traumatised person," the Hindustan Times says.

The paper praises the government for taking the initiative to get rid of the obsolete law.

"This is a commendable move. The government has taken the lead on this rather than leave it for the courts to decide upon," the paper says.

The Times of India also says that the decision "is a welcome step forward in a heated and seemingly interminable legal debate".

"The government's landmark decision not to treat attempted suicides as crimes is a sensitive and humane step," the paper says.

It adds that the decision is "a much-needed legal corrective" in a country with high suicide rates.

Similar laws have been scrapped in all European and North American countries, and "India is now catching up", the paper says.

The Hindustan Times points out "there are only few countries that are continuing with the law: Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Singapore have persisted with this regressive law".

Papers say the decision is also likely to provide legal relief to activist Irom Sharmila Chanu, who has been on a hunger-strike for 14 years against a draconian law in the north-eastern state of Manipur.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Irom Sharmila has been arrested several times over "attempt to suicide"

She was re-arrested earlier in the year over "attempt to suicide".

Ms Chanu is protesting against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (Afspa) which gives sweeping powers to the security forces when they fight separatist insurgents or leftist radicals.

Activists allege that security forces often misuse Afspa and violate human rights.

"The move potentially paves the way for the release of rights activist Irom Sharmila, who has been on hunger strike for the past 14 years," the Hindustan Times reports.

Religious conversion

In some international news, papers criticise the CIA after a Senate report alleged that US intelligence agency used "brutal" interrogation techniques on al-Qaeda suspects after the 9/11 attacks.

The Asian Age says the report "is a compendium of sins committed in the name of intelligence-gathering".

Even while expressing shock at the findings, The Indian Express says "the American system deserves credit for confronting and facing up to its darkest deeds and excesses".

The CIA has defended its actions in the years after the 9/11 attacks, saying they saved many lives.

And finally, a recent conversion of at least 200 people to Hinduism in the northern city of Agra sparked outrage in both houses of parliament on Wednesday, the Indian Express reports.

Media reports said that most of the people who adopted Hinduism were Muslims.

Opposition parties, including the Congress, have alleged that the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government and right-wing group RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) are behind the conversions, the paper says.

The government has dismissed the allegation, saying the "centre has no role" in such conversions.

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