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AFSPA Extension in Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland

Courtesy/By: PARAM SAKET SARANG | 2024-03-30 20:56     Views : 72

AFSPA Extension in Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland

Introduction

Starting from April 1, 2024, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has opted to prolong the implementation of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) for an additional six months within select regions of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland.

This decision stems from an evaluation conducted on the prevailing law and order situation in the northeastern states. The assessment's findings necessitated the continuation of AFSPA to maintain security and stability in the specified areas. By extending AFSPA, the government aims to empower the armed forces with special powers to address any potential threats or disturbances effectively. This move underscores the ongoing concerns regarding security challenges faced in certain regions of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland, prompting the need for sustained security measures. The decision to extend AFSPA reflects the government's commitment to safeguarding the welfare and safety of the citizens residing in these areas, ensuring that necessary measures are in place to maintain peace and order.

The AFSPA was extended in eight districts of Nagaland, which consists of sixteen districts, and 21 police station areas in five more districts, according to a Nagaland government official who cited the MHA announcement.

The AFSPA has been extended for an additional six months in the Tirap, Changlang, and Longding districts of Arunachal Pradesh as well as in the territories under the control of the Namsai, Mahadevpur, and Chowkham police stations in the Namsai district, which borders Assam, according to another MHA announcement.

According to the official, the Center made the decision after assessing the state of law and order in Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland.

The AFSPA gives the Army, paramilitary, and other security forces the authority to enter or search properties without a warrant, make arrests without one, and carry out various other operations.

 

About AFSPA

  • The AFSPA was established as a set of four ordinances in 1947, and it was a reincarnation of the British-era law that had been passed to put an end to the protests during the Quit India campaign.

  • The 1948 Act superseded the ordinances, and in 1958, G.B. Pant, the home minister at the time, presented the current legislation that is in effect in the Northeast into Parliament.

  • The Armed Forces (Assam and Manipur) Special Powers Act, 1958 was its original name.

  • Following the formation of the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Nagaland, the Act was modified to encompass their jurisdiction as well.

  • The AFSPA grants the armed forces and Central armed police forces stationed in "disturbed areas" unrestricted authority to execute anyone breaking the law, make arrests without a warrant, inspect any property without a search warrant, and provide protection from legal action and punishment.

  • The law was initially implemented in 1958 in response to the Naga revolt.

  • The Act was changed in 1972, and the Central government and the States were given the authority to declare a region to be "disturbed" at the same time.

  • Meghalaya was subject to the AFSPA for 27 years till the MHA repealed it on April 1, 2018, after Tripura had abrogated the Act in 2015.

  • AFSFA is currently present in a few areas of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, and Assam.

 

Controversy around the AFSPA

Human Rights Violations

  • If security professionals, even non-commissioned officers, believe that using force and shooting someone "even to the causing of death" is necessary for the "maintenance of public order," they are authorized by law to do so.

  • Additionally, it gives soldiers the authority to enter buildings, conduct warrantless searches, and make arrests.

  • The use of these extraordinary powers by the armed forces has frequently given rise to claims of staged encounters and other breaches of human rights by security personnel in unrest-plagued areas, raising concerns about the AFSPA's indefinite imposition in some states, such J&K and Nagaland.

 

The Jeevan Reddy Committee's recommendations

  • In November 2004, the federal government created a committee consisting of five members, led by Justice B P Jeevan Reddy, to examine the act's provisions in the states in the northeastern region.

  • The committee suggested that the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 be amended to include the necessary provisions and that AFSPA be repealed.

  • Grievance cells should be established in each area where the armed forces are stationed, and the Unlawful Activities Act should be amended to explicitly define the authority of the armed forces and paramilitary forces.

Supreme Court view on AFSPA

  • In a 1998 ruling (Naga People's Movement of Human Rights v. Union of India), the Supreme Court affirmed the legitimacy of AFSPA.

  • The Supreme Court ruled in this case that the Central government may make a suo-motu declaration; however, it is preferable that the state government be consulted before the declaration is made; the declaration must have a specific duration and be reviewed on a regular basis after the six-month period has passed; and the authorized officer, in the exercise of the powers granted to him by AFSPA, must use the least amount of force necessary to carry out his duties.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the decision by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to extend the implementation of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) for a further six months in select regions of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland reflects the ongoing security concerns prevalent in these areas. The extension of AFSPA underscores the government's commitment to maintaining law and order and ensuring the safety of citizens, particularly in regions facing persistent security challenges. By prolonging AFSPA in districts such as Tirap, Changlang, and Longding in Arunachal Pradesh, as well as specific territories in the Namsai district of Arunachal Pradesh bordering Assam, the authorities aim to empower the armed forces with necessary powers to effectively combat threats to security and stability. However, it is crucial for the government to address the root causes of unrest and conflict in these regions through a holistic approach that includes dialogue, development initiatives, and addressing grievances of local communities. Additionally, efforts should be made to ensure that the implementation of AFSPA is accompanied by measures to protect human rights and prevent misuse of powers by security forces. Ultimately, sustained efforts towards peacebuilding and inclusive development are essential to achieving long-term stability and prosperity in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, and other conflict-affected areas in the Northeast region of India.

 

References

Courtesy/By: PARAM SAKET SARANG | 2024-03-30 20:56