Government reduces AFSPA in parts of Assam, Manipur and Nagaland, extends it in Arunachal Pradesh

The act has been in place in Assam since 1990, Manipur since 2004 and Nagaland since 1995.

After decades of its existence and a lot of deliberation, the home ministry has decided to reduce the ambit of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in three north-eastern states. The act has been in place in Assam since 1990, Manipur since 2004 and Nagaland since 1995.

Home Minister Amit Shah informed that the government of India has decided to reduce disturbed areas under AFSPA in the states of Nagaland, Assam and Manipur. He tweeted, “reduction in areas under AFSPA is 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 Northeast by Narendra Modi Government.” Back in 2015, the government has repealed the law completely from Meghalaya and Tripura.

In Assam, AFSPA will remain in the districts of Karbi Anglong, West Karbi Anglong, Dima Hasao, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Charaideo, Sivasagar, Golaghat, Jorhat and the Lakhipur subdivision of Cachar. Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told the Act will remain in force across the Upper Assam and hill districts. He said the moment we sign a peace dialogue with DNLA (Dimasa National Liberation Army), the withdrawal of AFSPA from the hill districts will be facilitated.

In case of Nagaland, the districts of Shamator, Tseminyu and Tuensang will get complete relaxation while Kohima, Mokokchung, Wokha and Longleng will get a partial relaxation for now. Similarly in Manipur, the districts of Jiribam, Thoubal, Bishnupur, Kakching, Imphal East and Imphal West will have a partial exemption from AFSPA, although the act will remain in place in other hill districts.

AFSPA was sown by the Britishers to suppress the Quit India Movement in 1942 and the law was retained by Jawaharlal Nehru as an act in 1958. The law has also been used in Jammu and Kashmir for a very long time where it has helped in curbing insurgency and maintaining lawful activities by manifolds. AFSPA provides special military powers to the army and other security forces to carry out operations and arrest anyone without a warrant. It also gives them exemption from any arrest and prosecution. However, a lot of human rights activists have been calling for a complete ban on the law for a very long time. Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh considered the move as an initial step and said that “we will continue to exert pressure on the Centre to completely remove the Disturbed Areas tag.”

The only addition in the extent of AFSPA was announced for three districts of Arunachal Pradesh, Tirap, Changland and Longding and areas under Namsai and Mahadevpur police stations bordering Assam which were declared as disturbed areas under AFSPA for a period of 6 months starting in April unless specified otherwise.

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