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Time is ripe to lift AFSPA from Assam and Arunachal Pradesh

  • Published
    7th Sep, 2023

Context:

Previously, many people vehemently opposed the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) due to coercion by insurgent groups in the North East. These groups manipulated locals to demand its repeal. Now, those once protesting AFSPA now call for its return.

The Changing Perspective on AFSPA

  • About AFSPA: Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) is a Parliamentary act that grants special powers to the Indian Armed Forces and the state and paramilitary forces in areas classified as “disturbed areas”.
  • Trigger Incident: The accidental killing of innocent civilians in Nagaland's incident led to high-level recommendations to withdraw AFSPA from certain North East areas, where insurgency had reduced significantly.
  • Reduced Need: As insurgency waned in Assam and other areas, the government sought to withdraw AFSPA where law and order could be maintained by state police or paramilitary forces, allowing the army to focus on border security.

The Evolving Situation in Manipur

  • Complex Manipur Scenario: In Manipur, despite historical protests for AFSPA repeal, renewed demands have arisen due to the Manipur police's inability to control escalating violence.
  • Army's Non-partisan Role: The Indian Army's impartiality and willingness to assist in disasters have won the confidence of Manipuri people, even as its absence is felt in times of trouble.
  • To control situation: The Central government's decision to appoint Col (Retd) Nectar Sanjebam, a hero of the 2015 surgical strike, as Senior Superintendent of Police (Combat) in Manipur Police is seen as a positive move to bridge the gap between the army and Manipur Police.

Way Forward and Potential Implications

  • Potential AFSPA Removal: While AFSPA may be removed from some districts in Assam due to improved law and order, Manipur's unique situation necessitates a different approach.
  • Indian Army's Role: The Indian Army's vital role in safeguarding the nation's unity and integrity, disaster relief, and counterterrorism efforts is highlighted.
  • Hope for Improved Relations: The appointment of Col (Retd) Nectar Sanjebam offers hope for better cooperation between the Indian Army, Assam Rifles, and Manipur Police.
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