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AFSPA Removed from Meghalaya, Restricted in Arunachal Pradesh

Udbhav writes,the Armed Forces Special Powers Act(AFSPA) will now be in force in the whole of Assam and Nagaland, all of Manipur (except Imphal municipal area) and in the three districts and eight police station areas of Arunachal Pradesh.

Armed Forces (Special Powers) Acts (AFSPA), are acts of the Parliament of India that grant special powers to the Indian armed forces in ‘disturbed areas’ according to the act. According to the Disturbed Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1976 once declared ‘disturbed’ that particular area has to maintain status quo for a minimum of three months. One such Act passed on 11th September 1958, was applicable to the Naga Hills, then part of Assam. In the next few decades it spread to the other Seven Sister States of north eastern India. At present it is in force in Assam, Nagaland, Manipur excluding Imphal municipal council area, Changlang, Longding and Tirap districts of Arunchal Pradesh. Second one was passed in 1983 and applicable to Punjab and Chandigarh which was withdrawn in 1997, roughly 14 years after it came into force. In 1990 an act passed was applied to Jammu and Kashmir and has been in force since. The Acts have received a lot of a criticism for alleged concerns about human rights violations in the regions of its enforcement, from several sections. P. Chidambaram and Saifuddin Soz of Congress have advocated revocation of AFSPA, while some like Amarinder Singh are against its revocation.

The Centre has withdrawn AFSPA totally from Meghalaya and eight out of sixteen police stations in Arunachal Pradesh, with effect from 31st March 2018. This act has been in force for almost 27 years in Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh. With insurgency-related incidents in the northeast region down by 85% from the levels recorded at the peak of militancy two decades ago, the Centre decided to take this step in Meghalaya and the eight police stations in the northeast region. The Union home ministry official said areas of the two states bordering Assam were declared ‘disturbed’ in 1991 to avoid the insurgency by Assam-based outfits like the United Liberation Front of Asom(ULFA) to spread to them. The Tripura government had lifted AFSPA from the state after 18 years in the year 2015. Until 30th September 2017, all areas falling within a 20-km belt in Meghalaya bordering Assam were notified as ‘disturbed’ areas. This was reduced to a 10-km belt effective from 1st October 2017. However, on 31st March 2018, due to the improved situation in the10-kms stretch AFSPA has been withdrawn from the area. Assam too may reduce the AFSPA area.

The Armed Forces Special Powers Act(AFSPA) will now be in force in the whole of Assam and Nagaland, all of Manipur (except Imphal municipal area) and in the three districts and eight police station areas of Arunachal Pradesh. For almost six decades Nagaland has been under AFSPA. Other than the Seven-Sister states region, AFSPA is applicable in the Jammu and Kashmir region as well.Sources said the review of ‘disturbed’ areas list under AFSPA is part of a larger process to curtail the area of enforcement of the law — seen by many as draconian — in the northeast, given the improved security situation. The current insurgency levels in Assam have reduced a lot, the state government is expected to decide soon on withdrawal of AFSPA from few of its districts. There is a decline in the insurgency visible across the north-eastern states.

“The year 2017 recording the lowest insurgency incidents and casualties since 1997. As compared to 1,963 incidents in 2000, only 308 were reported in 2017 (down 85%). There was also a 96% fall in casualties of civilians and security forces. The Act was withdrawn from Tripura in 2015 and in past one year, fewer areas in northeast are under the Act, the official said, adding that the Act was only in place in Meghalaya for a 20-km area along the Assam border and not in operation in Mizoram. In Assam, 63 NDFB(S) cadres killed and 1052 cadres/linkmen were arrested between December 2014 and March 2018.Compared to 2016 there has been a 37 percent fall in insurgency incidents in NE region; 30 percent reduction in forces killed; and 23 percent fall in civilians killed. Between 2014 and 2018, there has been a 63 percent decline in insurgency incidents in NE; 83% fall in civilian deaths; and 40 percent fall in security personnel killings. AFSPA gives powers to the Army and central forces deployed in “disturbed areas” to kill anyone acting in contravention of law, arrest and search any premises without a warrant and provide cover to forces from prosecution and legal suits without the Central government’s sanction.”

Assam and Manipur state governments have the powers to keep or revoke the Act. Ninong Ering, who is a Lok Sabha MP from Arunachal Pradesh, has voiced strong objection to the Centre’s decision of extending AFSPA by six months to three districts of Arunachal Pradesh.

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One thought on “AFSPA Removed from Meghalaya, Restricted in Arunachal Pradesh

  1. Granth Vanaik says:

    Draconian is a very strong word and it shouldn’t be used here. Draconian laws were introduced by an Athenian law maker Draco, under which even a small crime can get one a harsh punishment. Whereas this hasn’t been the case either in the North East or Jammu and Kashmir. AFSPA was implemented to protect the people from the attrocities and attacks that the people are facing. People agitating against the extension of AFSPA should understand that the situation in their region is not stable enough, even now. In my opinion, Center should implement AFSPA whenver it feels its necessary and the reconsideration of the disturbed areas list is a good step taken by the Govt of India.

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