Agartala: Tripura has extended for another six months the operation of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), a stringent law that gives sweeping powers to security forces deployed in disturbed areas to curb terrorism, an official said on Thursday.
"The state level coordination committee (SLCC), supervising the anti-insurgency operation in the state, recently reviewed the overall situation and suggested to extend the AFSPA`s term in Tripura by another six months. The state government has accepted the recommendation," a state home department official told reporters.
"Though militancy has come down in Tripura, the Left Front government is averse to taking any chances for some more time," he added.
Tripura has 70 police stations - areas under 34 of them have the AFSPA in full force while in areas under six of them the AFSPA has been imposed partially.
The 1958 act provides unlimited powers to the security forces to shoot on sight, arrest anybody without a warrant, or carry out searches without hinder. It also insulates the security forces from legal processes for any action undertaken under the act.
Local rights groups and political parties describe the act as "draconian" and want it repealed.
"Innocent people are victimised by security forces in the name of anti-insurgency operations," tribal based Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT) leader Srota Ranjan Khisa told reporters.
"Demand for repealing the AFSPA was one of the issues in our ongoing movement against the Left Front government," Khisa said.
According to the leaders of INPT, a regional party and an ally of the Congress, several hundred tribal youths have been either detained or arrested under the AFSPA over the years.
Besides Tripura, the AFSPA is now in force in states of Manipur excluding the Imphal Municipal Council area, Assam, Nagaland, and Tirap and Changlang districts of Arunachal Pradesh.
Human rights activist Irom Chanu Sharmila of Manipur has been on an indefinite hunger strike since 11 years, demanding rescinding of the act.