Tuesday, April 23, 2024

AFSPA reduced in Nagaland, Assam, Manipur after decades: Shah

In a major outreach to Northeastern states, Home Minister Amit Shah today announced that areas covered under the controversial law Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in Nagaland, Assam and Manipur will be reduced after decades.

Crediting the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the move, he said that 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 has made it possible. 

Congratulating the people of the region, he took a swipe at the governments that came before, saying the region was neglected for decades and is now “witnessing a new era of peace, prosperity and unprecedented development”. 

News agency PTI quoted a Home Ministry spokesperson saying the decision does not imply that the AFSPA has been completely withdrawn from the three insurgency-hit states but will continue to be in force in some areas.

AFSPA empowers security forces to conduct operations anywhere and arrest anyone without any prior warrant. It also gives a certain level of immunity to the security forces in case of an operation going wrong. The law was brought in to help security forces in countering insurgency in what the government considered “disturbed areas”. In addition to giving them sweeping powers, it also gives the forces legal immunity against a civilian trial.

The move comes at a time when the continued demand to repeal the act has gained renewed momentum following the death of 14 civilians in firing by security forces in a botched anti-insurgency operation and retaliatory violence in Mon district of Nagaland on December 4 last year. 

In the recently concluded assembly elections in Manipur, all parties had promised to address the demand of removing the controversial act from the state. Biren Singh, who returned as Manipur Chief Minister for the second term, fought the state elections with a measured promise to do something about  AFSPA. Though he said he would work to remove AFSPA, he preferred a “balanced approach” that takes care of the ground reality.

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