AFSPA revoked in Meghalaya, partially lifted in Arunachal
24 April 2018
The centre has withdrawn the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) totally from Meghalaya as well as from 8 police stations in Arunachal following a substantial drop in insurgency.
The decision was taken following an 85 per cent drop in insurgency-related incidents in the North East compared to levels recorded at the peak of militancy two decades ago, according to home ministry figures.
Accordingly, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) stands totally withdrawn from Meghalaya as well as from eight out of 16 police stations in Arunachal Pradesh, with effect from 31 March 2018.
AFSPA, which was in force in Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh for the past 27 years, empowered armed forces special powers and provided immunity to forces deployed in areas declared “disturbed.”
AFSPA was originally enforced in Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh in order to avoid a spillover from Assam which was declared “disturbed” in 1991, amidst a spike in insurgency by outfits like the United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa), according to the home ministry.
Until 30 September 2017, all areas falling within a 20-km belt in Meghalaya bordering Assam were notified as “disturbed” areas. Effective 1 October 2017, this was reduced to a 10-km belt.
However, on 31 March 2018, with an improvement in the ground situation, it was decided AFSPA need no longer be in force even within the 10-km stretch.
The Tripura government had lifted AFSPA from the state in 2015, after 18 years.
The Armed Forces Special Powers Act will now be in force in the whole of Assam and Nagaland, all of Manipur (except Imphal municipal area) and in three districts and eight police station areas of Arunachal Pradesh. Nagaland has been under AFSPA for almost six decades. Other than the northeast, AFSPA is applicable in J&K.
While the review for Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland is still handled by the centre, Assam and Manipur governments have been notifying ‘disturbed’ areas — a prerequisite for imposing the law — on their own since last year.
Sources said the review of ‘disturbed’ areas list under AFSPA is part of a larger process to curtail the area of enforcement of the law — seen by many as draconian.
With insurgency levels in Assam too at a record low, the state government is expected to decide soon on withdrawal of AFSPA from some districts.
Simultaneously, the cabinet committee on security has approved a home ministry proposal for enhancement in overall cost from Rs138.95 crore to Rs212.85 crore for strengthening of police establishments, infrastructure development for 11 new police stations and upgradation of nine police stations in Tirap, Changlang and Longding in order to improve security situation in areas adjoining Myanmar.