The Centre has removed the contentious Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958, from Meghalaya and parts of Arunachal Pradesh.
Reports state that the AFSPA, which gives security forces unbridled powers in “disturbed areas”, was removed on 31 March. The Act is only in place in Meghalaya for a 20-km area along the Assam border.
The Act is now in force in the whole of Nagaland, Assam and parts of Manipur.
MoS Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju hailed the removal of the AFSPA adding that it was a result of the improved security situation in the region.
“The revocation of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act by Home Ministry from Assam, Meghalaya & most areas of Arunachal Pradesh is due to significant improvement of security scenario in North-East India in last 4 years,” wrote the Lok Sabha MP from Arunachal West on Twitter.
The revocation of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act by Home Ministry from Assam, Meghalaya & most areas of Arunachal Pradesh is due to significant improvement of security scenario in North-East India in last 4 years.
— Kiren Rijiju (@KirenRijiju) April 23, 2018
Reacting to the development, Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Tuesday that he is hopeful that the AFSPA will be revoked from other parts of the parts of the Northeast. He called the development a positive start.
Assam has been under AFSPA since 1980s when the state was brought under “disturbed area” category.
The Home Ministry had in 2017 asked Assam government to take a call on the AFSPA in the state, but on 28 February the state government extended the AFSPA by another six months.
The Act gives the Army and central forces the right 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.
The Act was withdrawn from Tripura in 2015 and in past one year, fewer areas in northeast are under the Act. The Act has also been extended by another six months in three eastern districts of Arunachal Pradesh – Tirap, Longding and Changlang – which border Myanmar.
Other than the northeast, AFSPA is in force in Jammu-Kashmir.
Human rights activists have been protesting against the AFSPA for a long time citing abuses by security force personnel.