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Cabinet reduces AFSPA from several northeast states with an improvement in security situation

By wasmulhaq 
Updated Date

The Union Cabinet took a bold decision on Thursday to remove the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from several districts in Nagaland, Assam and Manipur. The decision comes due to the demands from several states in the northeast to remove AFSPA following the killing of more than a dozen civilians in the Mon district of Nagaland last year.

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In a tweet, Home Minister Amit Shah said that “in a significant step, GoI, under the decisive leadership of PM Shri @NarendraModi Ji, has decided to reduce disturbed areas under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the states of Nagaland, Assam and Manipur after decades,

Improvement in the security situation

Shah said that the reduction in areas under AFSPA “is a result of the improved security situation and fast-tracked development due to the consistent efforts and several agreements to end insurgency and bring lasting peace in the Northeast under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”

Thanks to PM Modi’s unwavering commitment, our northeastern region, which was neglected for decades, is now witnessing a new era of peace, prosperity, and unprecedented development. “I congratulate the people of the Northeast on this momentous occasion,” he added.

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Withdrawal will begin on April 1st.

According to Ministry of Home Affairs sources, the withdrawal will begin on April 1.After the Mon massacre, the government set up a committee to look into the demand for the removal of AFSPA from Nagaland last year.

Not a complete withdrawal

As per the source, a Home Ministry spokesperson said the decision does not imply that the AFSPA has been completely withdrawn from the three insurgency-hit states but will continue to be in force in some areas.

On December 26, the Centre set up a high-level committee chaired by a secretary-level officer to examine the possibility of withdrawing AFSPA in Nagaland. The committee was given a deadline of three months.

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The committee was set up following protests over the botched-up operation in the Mon district of Nagaland on December 4, in which six coal miners were killed. After the incident, the Nagaland Assembly passed a resolution for the repeal of AFSPA.

The committee is headed by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India, Vivek Joshi, and includes Additional Secretary in the Union Home Ministry, Piyush Goyal, as well as the Chief Secretary and Director General of Police, Nagaland, and the DGP, Assam Rifles, as members.

In 2004, the Jeevan Reddy Committee, set up by the then Manmohan Singh government, recommended the repeal of AFSPA. Following this, a Cabinet sub-committee was formed to examine the matter. However, the Modi government rejected the recommendations of the Reddy committee, and the Cabinet sub-committee was also dissolved.

However, activists have been calling for its recall for decades as several instances of human rights abuses have been reported. Critics of the act say that AFSPA shields officers who indulge in human rights abuses and criminal acts because they cannot be tried in a civilian court and the military’s internal processes are opaque. Under the act, the local police need prior approval from the central government to prosecute army or paramilitary forces in civilian courts.

 

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