Govt. may lift AFSPA in 4 States after Naga peace pact

Vijaita Singh
 Govt. may lift AFSPA in 4 States after Naga peace pact

Special access: The Act gives unbridled powers to the armed forces to kill or arrest anyone acting in contravention of law. PTIPTI

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Tuesday, 4th October 2022
Page No. 5
Delhi Print Edition

The uncertainty around the culmination of the Naga peace process is one of the reasons that led to the Armed Forces (Special) Powers Act (AFSPA) being retained in some parts of Assam, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh for another six months, according to government officials.

Effective April 1, the Union Home Ministry and the State governments had considerably reduced “disturbed areas” in Assam, Manipur and Nagaland. The AFSPA was applicable in whole of Nagaland and Assam till March 31.

Under Section 3 of the Act, the State governments and the Ministry have concurrent powers to notify areas under the AFSPA. In Assam, the Ministry was issuing the “disturbed area” order till 2017. Since then, Assam has been renewing the notification every six months. The latest was issued on March 31. On September 30, the MHA extended the AFSPA in parts of Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh for six months.

The Act gives unbridled powers to the armed forces 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.

“In Assam, the AFSPA has been retained in areas that are adjacent to the Nagaland border. In Nagaland, there is an ongoing peace process and once it is culminated, we will be able to further reduce the areas under the special Act,” G.P. Singh, Special Director-General of Police, Assam, told The Hindu.

Talks in progress

The Centre is engaged in discussions with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) and seven Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) to find a solution to the Naga political issue.

The AFSPA was first revoked from 60% of Assam on April 1. The State in 2020 and 2021 had witnessed a surge in the number of surrendered weapons and the number of militants who were arrested. In 2020 and 2021, the number of arrested militants stood at 146 and 216, respectively, while the weapons surrendered were 342 and 432 in the same period. Till September this year, 131 militants were arrested and 83 weapons surrendered.

The official said the special statutory power was removed as violence had come down.

Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh told The Hindu that after revocation of the AFSPA from some parts in Manipur, 78 militants had joined the mainstream. He said most militant groups in the State had signed the suspension of operations agreement with the government.

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