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Disturbed areas under AFSPA to be reduced in Nagaland, Assam and Manipur, says Amit Shah

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Disturbed areas under AFSPA to be reduced in Nagaland, Assam and Manipur, says Amit Shah

The home minister said the decision was a result of the improved security situation and fast-tracked development due to the 'consistent efforts' of Prime Minister Narendra Modi

FP Staff March 31, 2022 15:33:30 IST

The government of India on Thursday decided to reduce disturbed areas under Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the states of Nagaland, Assam and Manipur, announced Union Home Minister Amit Shah in a tweet.

He further added that the decision was a result of the improved security situation and fast-tracked development due to the “consistent efforts and several agreements to end insurgency and bring lasting peace in North East” by Prime Minister Modi.

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Shah said that it is owing to the prime minister’s “unwavering commitment, our North-Eastern region, which was neglected for decades is now witnessing a new era of peace, prosperity and unprecedented development.”

What is AFSPA

AFSPA in its original form was promulgated by the British in response to the Quit India movement in 1942. After Independence, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru decided to retain the Act, which was first brought in as an ordnance and then notified as an Act in 1958.

AFSPA has been imposed in the northeast states, Jammu and Kashmir, and Punjab during the militancy years. Punjab was the first state from where it was repealed, followed by Tripura and Meghalaya. It remained in force in Nagaland, Manipur, Assam, J&K, and parts of Arunachal Pradesh.

AFSPA provides for special powers for the Armed Forces that can be imposed by the Centre or the governor of a state, on the state or parts of it, after it is declared “disturbed’’ under Section 3. The Act defines these as areas that are “disturbed or dangerous condition that the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary’’. AFSPA has been used in areas where militancy has been prevalent.

The Act, often called draconian, gives sweeping powers to the Armed Forces. It allows them to open fire’, even causing death, against any person in contravention to the law or carrying arms and ammunition. It gives them powers to arrest individuals without warrants, on the basis of “reasonable suspicion”, and also search premises without warrants.

The Act further provides blanket impunity to security personnel involved in such operations: There can be no prosecution or legal proceedings against them without the prior approval of the Centre.

Move was in the offing

The current decision of the Centre comes two months after Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had said that some positive development regarding the Act is expected during the year. He had extended the Act in the entire state for six more months with effect from 28 February.

Even N Biren Singh, who was elected as the chief minister of Manipur for a second term recently, had said that AFSPA would be repealed in an interview with CNN-News18. He had said, “We have identified certain parts of the state. We have already requested the central government and some positive things will come, I believe. It’s under discussion and I believe that will happen.”

The development also comes after the Mizoram, Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP), the apex student body of Mizoram, met Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and requested for the revocation of the Act.

With input from agencies

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