January 19, 2022

The World Live Breaking News Coverage & Updates IN ENGLISH

The World Live Breaking News Coverage & Updates IN ENGLISH

AFSPA area has shrunk over the years

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AFSPA area has shrunk over the years
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AFSPA area has shrunk over the years
AFSPA area has shrunk over the years

NEW DELHI: While the killing of civilians in Nagaland by the Army in a case of mistaken identity has added fuel to the long-standing demand of northeastern people for repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), the geographical area where the Act is applicable has been steadily shrinking over the last few years, particularly after 2014.
While AFSPA was totally withdrawn from Tripura and Meghalaya in 2015 and 2018 respectively – after being in force for 18 years in Tripura and 27 years in Meghalaya – the area under the Act has been significantly cut back in Arunachal Pradesh over the years. As on date, only three districts of Tirap, Changlang and Longding and two police stations of Namsai district in Arunachal are under AFSPA. However, the entire state of Assam, Nagaland and Manipur (except Imphal municipal area) continue to be under AFSPA.
The home ministry reviews ‘disturbed areas’ list under AFSPA in respect of Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, while the ‘disturbed areas’ in the case of Assam and Manipur are notified by their respective state governments.
The home ministry had taken a decision in 2017 not to notify future extensions of AFSPA in Assam because it felt that the situation in the state did not warrant it. The MHA decision came with a rider that if the state feels the necessity of the Act, it could extend the term on its own. Since then, Assam government has been extending AFSPA across the entire state, though TOI has reliably learnt that it is keen to review applicability of the Act in the state, thanks to the improved security situation.
AFSPA was enacted by Parliament in 1958 to tackle insurgency in the north-east. The Parliament also approved a ‘similar’ Armed Forces (Jammu & Kashmir) Special Powers Act in 1990.
Sections 4 and 7 of AFSPA give sweeping powers and legal safeguards to the armed forces – including shoot at sight, arrest and searching houses without warrant — while undertaking counter-terrorism operations. Civil rights groups have been demanding scrapping of AFSPA claiming that the `draconian powers’ it gives to the security forces are `often misused’ against `innocents’. The Army however has strongly opposed any move to repeal AFSPA, saying that it gives the troops `operational flexibility and legality’ in the anti-insurgency battle.
The demand for scrapping AFSPA had become shriller in the wake of the rape-cum-murder of Manipuri woman Thangjam Manorama in 2004 for which the locals blamed Assam Rifles personnel.
Though an expert committee – constituted in 2004 under retired judge B P Jeevan Reddy – had reviewed and examined AFSPA and recommended its repeal, the recommendations could not be implemented due to lack of consensus among the different stakeholders. Former home minister P Chidambaram did try to find a middle-path by suggesting amendments in AFSPA to make it more humane, but even that did not pass muster, largely due to purported reservations of the armed forces.

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