New Delhi: The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958 (AFSPA), has been extended in Nagaland for six more months with effect from Thursday (December 30).The Armed Forces (Special) Powers Act, or AFSPA, gives immense powers to the military to operate freely anywhere that has been declared a “disturbed area”; no military personnel in an area where AFSPA is in force can be prosecuted without the centre’s sanction.
The move came days after the Union government constituted a high-level committee to examine the possibility of the withdrawal of the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act from Nagaland.
“Whereas the Central government is of the opinion that the area comprising the whole of the State of Nagaland is in such a disturbed and dangerous condition that the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary. Now, therefore, in the 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 whole of the State of Nagaland to be a ‘disturbed area’ for a period of six months with effect from December 30, 2021, for the purpose of the said Act,” a home ministry notification said.
The notification was issued by the additional secretary in the Home Ministry, Piyush Goyal, who has been named the member secretary in the panel to examine the possibility of the withdrawal of the AFSPA. The committee is headed by secretary-level officer Vivek Joshi.
The development comes amid massive protest and active calls for the withdrawal of the act by the Nagaland government as well as people after a counter-insurgency operation by the Indian Army claimed the lives of 14 civilians.
The Union Home Minister called the killings a case of ‘mistaken identity’ in the parliament and assured a probe in the matter. The Nagaland killings triggered statewide protests and violence across the state.
The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, which is operational in Nagaland for several years, empowers security forces to conduct operations and arrest anyone without any prior warrant. It also gives immunity to the forces if they shoot someone dead.