Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said AFSPA, the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, will continue in Nagaland as it is a “special case” and the “peace agreement” hasn’t been finalised there yet.
Nagaland is the only State in the northeast, apart from eight police stations in Arunachal Pradesh, where ASFPA continues to be imposed by the Union Home Ministry.
Nagaland, Manipur and Assam are the only three States in the northeast that continue to be under AFSPA.
Last year, the Home Ministry gave up its power and asked the Assam government to take a decision on continuing AFSPA in the State. The Act gives powers to the Army and the Central forces deployed in “disturbed areas” to kill anyone acting in contravention of law, arrest and search any premises without a warrant and provide cover to forces from prosecution and legal suits without the Centre’s sanction.
State to renew plea
Nagaland’s Deputy Chief Minister Y. Patton said the State government would reiterate its request to the Centre to revoke AFSPA.
“The discussion on the Naga political situation is on and we are expecting the Government of India to solve the problem at the earliest. We have requested to lift AFSPA but we have been asked to wait for some time. When the solution (Naga deal) comes, automatically AFSPA will go,” Mr. Patton said.
NSCN-IM signed a framework agreement with the Government of India on August 3, 2015 to find a solution to the Naga issue.
The NSCN-IM has been fighting for ‘Greater Nagaland’ or Nagalim — it wants to extend Nagaland’s borders by including Naga-dominated areas in neighbouring Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, to unite 1.2 million Nagas.
Mr. Rijiju told The Hindu , “Revocation of AFSPA in Meghalaya is definitely related to improvement of the security scenario in the northeast. AFSPA is imposed both by the State and the Centre. It was withdrawn by Tripura (in 2015).
“It is a joint effort by the State government and the Centre. Security is a subject where both the Centre and the State should come together without any politics. In Assam also the situation has improved, that is why the Home Ministry withdrew it but it is imposed by the State government.”
He said he was not sure if AFSPA would be lifted from Nagaland in future.
‘Many factions involved’
“Nagaland is a special case…the peace agreement has not come about yet. There are many underground factions as well. There are issues like rivalry among different factions…I cannot say about the future policy,” Mr. Rijiju said. On April 1, the Home Ministry revoked AFSPA in Meghalaya and restricted it to eight police stations instead of 16 in Arunachal Pradesh.
Nagaland, Manipur and Assam are the only three States in the northeast that continue to be under AFSPA. Except Tripura and Manipur, the Centre was issuing such notifications for Assam, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya.
Last year, the Home Ministry gave up its power and asked the Assam government to take a decision on continuing AFSPA in the State. In the case of Assam (excluding areas covered by the Guwahati municipality) and Manipur (except seven Assembly constituencies in Imphal) the respective State governments exercise the right.
As per the Home Ministry’s data, in the northeast, there has been a reduction of 96 % in casualties among the security forces from 289 in 1997 to 12 in 2017. Civilian casualties also dropped by 96% from 907 in 2000 to 37 last year. The year 2017 recorded the lowest insurgency incidents.