Centre extends AFSPA in Nagaland for six more months

The move came days after the Union government constituted a high-level committee to examine the possibility of the withdrawal of the controversial Act.

December 30, 2021 09:44 am | Updated 11:08 am IST - New Delhi

Army soldiers ride past the main town in a convoy in Kohima, capital of Nagaland. File photo

Army soldiers ride past the main town in a convoy in Kohima, capital of Nagaland. File photo

The Union Home Ministry on Thursday, December 30, 2021, extended the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in the whole of Nagaland for another six months.

Also read: Nagaland firing | Army team visits site of botched encounter at Mon district

In a notification, the Ministry said “the Central government is of the opinion that the area comprising the whole of the State of Nagaland is in such a disturbed and dangerous condition that the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary.”

It added that in exercise of powers conferred under Section 4 of the Act, “the Central government hereby declares that whole of the State of Nagaland to be ‘disturbed area’ for a period of six months with effect from 30th December, 2021, for the purpose of the said Act.”

Also read: Nagaland killings underline AFSPA pitfalls

The last time such an extension was made was on June 30.

The Act, which has been in force in the northeast since 1958, gives unbridled powers to the armed forces and the Central Armed Police Forces deployed in “disturbed areas” to kill anyone acting in contravention of law, arrest and search any premises without a warrant and protection from prosecution and legal suits without the Central government’s sanction.

Watch | What is happening in Nagaland?

Both the Central and State governments have concurrent powers to issue a notification under Section 3 of the Act.

The Manipur government on December 8 issued a notification to extend the Act in the State, excluding the municipal areas of Imphal, for another year. The order said “the Governor of Manipur is of the opinion that due to violent activities of various extremist/insurgent groups, the entire State of Manipur is in such a disturbed condition that the use of Armed Forces in aid of civil power is necessary.”

Right from the 1980s, the notification extending the AFSPA in Manipur has been issued by the Manipur government. In the last 40 years, the Centre has not issued any notification under the Act for Manipur.

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio on December 26 announced that the Union Home Ministry had constituted a committee to look into the withdrawal of the Act in Nagaland. The State has erupted in protests since December 4 when 13 civilians were killed in a botched operation by the Army near Oting in Mon district.

The Union Ministry issues “disturbed area” notification only for Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh in the districts of Tirap, Changlang, Longding and areas falling under the Namsai and Mahadevpur police stations bordering Assam.

In the case of Assam, the Union Ministry issued the “disturbed area” order till 2017. Since then, the State has been renewing the notification every six months, with the latest move made on September 10.

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