Northeast Areas Under Controversial Law AFPSA Reduced, Says Amit Shah


AFSPA in Northeast gives sweeping power to the security forces and also offers them legal immunity.

New Delhi:

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.

AFSPA has been lifted from 23 Assam districts completely and from one district partially, 15 police stations in six Manipur districts, and 15 police stations in seven districts of Nagaland.

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”. 

Thanking PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for the decision, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that around 60% of the state’s area will now be free from AFSPA’s purview.

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“AFSPA has been in force since 1990 & this move marks the beginning of a new chapter in Assam’s future. 

It is a testimony to the significant improvement in law & order in the State.

With peace getting primacy, North East is now on a new trajectory of growth & development,” he said in a tweet.

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and his Manipur counterpart N Biren Singh also expressed gratitude to PM Modi for the decision. 

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.

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However, activists have been calling for its recall for decades as several instances of human rights abuses have been reported. Critics of the act say that AFSPA shields officers who indulge in human rights abuses and criminal acts as they can not be tried in a civilian court and the military’s internal processes are opaque. Under the act, the local police need prior approval of the central government to prosecute army or paramilitary forces in civilian courts.

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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