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HomeUncategorizedIn major step, Centre reduces area under AFSPA in North-East

In major step, Centre reduces area under AFSPA in North-East

New Delhi: The Central government has decided to reduce the area under the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Nagaland, Assam and Manipur, Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced on Thursday.

“In a significant step, the Government of India under the decisive leadership of PM Shri Narendra Modi Ji has decided to reduce disturbed areas under Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the states of Nagaland, Assam and Manipur after decades,” Shah said in a tweet.

“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 the North East by PM Narendra Modi government,” he said.

“Thanks to PM Narendra Modi Ji’s unwavering commitment, our North-Eastern region, which was neglected for decades, is now witnessing a new era of peace, prosperity and unprecedented development. I congratulate the people of North East on this momentous occasion,” he said.

The demand for the withdrawal of AFSPA has been a long-standing one in the North-Eastern states. The issue was again highlighted after an incident in Nagaland’s Mon district, where 14 civilians and a soldier were killed during a botched security operation. The killing by Indian security forces “highlights the need for the Indian government to immediately repeal the abusive Armed Forces Special Powers Act”, said the international watchdog organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW).

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Introduced in 1958, AFSPA is an act of Parliament that grants special powers to India’s armed forces to maintain public order in “disturbed areas”. One such AFSPA, passed on September 11, 1958 was applicable to the Naga Hills, then part of Assam. In the following decades, it spread to the other North-Eastern states, and is currently in force in Assam, Nagaland, Manipur (excluding Imphal Municipal Council Area), three districts of Arunachal Pradesh, and areas within the jurisdiction of the eight police stations in Arunachal Pradesh bordering Assam. Another act passed in 1990 for Jammu and Kashmir has been in force ever since.

HRW has described AFSPA as an act that “gives armed forces deployed in internal conflicts broad powers to use lethal force and provides soldiers with effective immunity from prosecution”.

On December 4, 2021, Indian Army soldiers shot and killed six coal miners in Mon district, later saying they mistook the miners for militants. The deaths led to violent clashes between locals and the troops, resulting in seven more civilian deaths, along with that of a soldier. A day later, the Assam Rifles Army unit killed another person when protesters attacked their camp. In an FIR about the incident, the local police said the Army had not asked the police station to provide a police guide for their counterinsurgency operations.

Agencies

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