The central government extended the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, for a further period of six months in Nagaland on Monday.

According to the gazette notification, the centre was of the opinion that the area comprising whole Nagaland is in such a disturbed condition that the use of armed forces in aid of civil power is necessary.

“Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (No. 28 of 1958), the Central Government hereby declares that the whole of the said State to be a ‘disturbed area’ for a period of six months with effect from 30th December, 2019 for the purpose of that Act,” the notification stated.

Nagaland has been under AFSPA for almost six decades. It was expected to be withdrawn after an agreement was signed by Naga insurgent group National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak Muivah) General Secretary Thuingaleng Muivah and government interlocutor R.N. Ravi in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 3, 2015.

The law is termed as ‘draconian’ by many civil society groups. It gives the military sweeping powers to search and arrest, and to open fire if they deem it necessary for the maintenance of public order.

The Ministry had last time extended AFSPA in the state on June 30 for six months which was scheduled to end on December 29.

As per the Home Ministry data, violent incidents have fallen from 77 in 2014 to 19 in 2017, while extremists’ killing slid from 296 to 171. On March 31 last year, the Home Ministry withdrew AFSPA totally from Meghalaya as well as 8 of the 16 police stations in Arunachal Pradesh where it had been in force for the past few decades.

The Home Ministry has underlined that incidents of insurgency in northeast region were down by 96 per cent from the levels recorded in 1997.

AFSPA is also imposed in Assam, most of Manipur, and three districts of Arunachal Pradesh.

(With inputs from IANS)