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Areas under AFSPA regime reduced: Shah

  • Category
    Security
  • Published
    11th Apr, 2022

Context

The central government has decided to reduce the disturbed areas under the ambit of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Nagaland, Assam and Manipur after decades.

Background

  • The Northeast has lived under the shadow of AFSPA for nearly 60 years, creating a feeling of alienation from the rest of the country.
  • The footprint of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958 has been, withdrawn entirely from 23 districts in Assam; and partially from seven districts in Nagaland, six districts in Manipur, and one district in Assam.
  • Once the decision is notified in the gazette, AFSPA remains in force in parts of these three states as well as in parts of Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir.
  • The move is expected to help demilitarise the region; it will lift restrictions of movements through check points and frisking of residents.

Analysis

What is AFSPA?

  • AFSPA, which has been called draconian, gives sweeping powers to the armed forces.
    • For example, it allows them to open fire, even causing death, against any person in contravention to the law or carrying arms and ammunition, and gives them powers to arrest individuals without warrants, on the basis of “reasonable suspicion”, and also search premises without warrants.
  • It can be imposed by the Centre or the Governor of a state, on the state or parts of it, after these areas are declared “disturbed’’ under Section 3.

What is the immediate reason of the move?

  • The decision has come as the result of a combination of circumstances.
  • Over the last two decades, various parts of the Northeast have seen a reduction in insurgencies, some of them up to 60 years old. A number of major groups were already in talks with the Indian government, and these talks received traction during the current regime.
  • In Nagaland, all major groups — the NSCN (I-M) and Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) — are at advanced stages of concluding agreements with the government.
  • In Manipur, insurgency, as well as heavy militarisation, have been on the decline since 2012, when the Supreme Court started hearing a PIL on extra-judicial killings.
  • In Nagaland, the killing of 14 villagersin Oting, Mon, is seen as having had a telling impact on reviving the demand to repeal AFSPA.
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