AFSPA completely removed from Meghalaya, restricted in Arunachal Pradesh

AFSPA was totally withdrawn from all areas of Meghalaya from April 1. In Arunachal, it is down from 16 police stations to eight, the MHA said.

AFSPA completely removed from Meghalaya, restricted in Arunachal Pradesh

NEW DELHI: The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), which gives special powers to armed forces in the disturbed regions, has been completely removed from Meghalaya and restricted in Arunachal Pradesh. 

''Union Home Ministry has removed Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) from Meghalaya and reduced it to eight police stations in Arunachal Pradesh, a senior Home Ministry official said on Monday.

"AFSPA was totally withdrawn from all areas of Meghalaya from April 1. In Arunachal, it is down from 16 police stations to eight," the official added. 

''The decision to remove AFSPA from Meghalaya and parts of Arunachal Pradesh was taken due to significant improvement of security situation in the two states,'' the Home Ministry officials were quoted as saying by PTI.

While insurgency has been completely wiped out from Tripura and Mizoram, there has been a marked improvement in security situation in Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Manipur, according to the Home Ministry.

In Assam, sustained counter-insurgency operations against NDFB (S) have resulted in the killing of 63 cadres and the arrest of 1,052 cadres/linkmen besides recovery of huge arms and ammunition between December 2014 and March this year, the MHA report said.

Across the northeast, there has been a huge reduction of 96 percent in casualties among the security forces from 289 in 1997 to 12 in 2017. Civilian casualties also dropped by 96 percent from 907 in the year 2000 to 37 last year, the official added.

Insurgency incidents during the same period reduced by 85 percent from 1963 to 308. So far as kidnapping and abductions are concerned, there has been a 40 percent drop from 168 incidents in 2016 to 102 last year, the MHA said in its assessment.

Though removed from almost all of Meghalaya, the AFSPA has, however, been extended by another six months in three eastern districts of Arunachal Pradesh - Tirap, Longding and Changlang.

These three eastern districts of Arunachal Pradesh share the border with Myanmar and some specific areas under eight police stations in seven other districts bordering Assam. 

The three districts have been under the AFSPA since January 2016.

There have been demands from various organisations in the northeast as well as the political parties in Jammu and Kashmir for repealing the act, which, they say, gives sweeping powers to the security forces to act against civilians.

The controversial Act was withdrawn from Tripura in 2015 and in past one year, fewer areas in the northeast are under the Act, the official said, adding that the Act was only in place in Meghalaya for a 20-km area along the Assam border) and not in operation in Mizoram.

AFSPA gives special powers to the Army and 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 Central government's sanction.

It is still effective in the whole of Nagaland, Assam, Manipur (excluding seven Assembly constituencies of Imphal).

It was not withdrawn in Nagaland even after a framework agreement was signed on August 3, 2015, by Naga insurgent group NSCN-IM general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah and government interlocutor RN Ravi in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The state governments of Assam and Manipur now have the powers to keep or revoke the Act. 

(With Agency Inputs)