Areas under AFSPA reduced

Areas under AFSPA reduced

News: Recently, the Union Government has partially withdrawn the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958 from parts of three Northeast states— Assam, Nagaland and Manipur.
Currently, AFSPA remains in force in parts of these three states as well as in parts of Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir.

About AFSPA:
• It gives sweeping powers to the armed forces. For example, it allows them to open fire, even causing death, against any person in contravention to the law or carrying arms and ammunition.
• Gives powers to arrest individuals without warrants, on the basis of ‘reasonable suspicion’, and search premises without warrants.

Who can impose AFSPA?
• It can be imposed by the Centre or the Governor of a state, on the state or parts of it, after these areas are declared “disturbed’’ under Section 3.

Role of state government:
• The act gives power to the central government to unilaterally take the decision to impose AFSPA, but it is generally done after informal consultation with the state government.
• The Centre takes its decision after having received a recommendation from the state government.
• The security forces need to hand over the suspects to the local police station within 24 hours, therefore coordination with local police is essential.

Main issues surrounding AFSPA:
• It furthers the feeling of Alienation
• Draconian law and Fake encounters: In a writ petition filed in the Supreme court in 2012, the families of victims of extra judicial killings alleged that 1528 fake encounters had taken place in the state from May 1979 to May 2012.
• It bypasses the state government on many occasions.

Reasons for withdrawal of AFSPA and its impact:
• Improvement in the overall security situation and is a result of peace agreements made to end insurgency.
• In Nagaland, the major groups – the NSCN(I-M) and Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) – are at advanced stages of concluding agreement with the government.
• The move will demilitarize the region; improve ease of movement within the states.

Attempts made to repeal AFSPA:
• Protests by Irom Sharmila
• Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee recommended repeal of AFSPA and called it ‘highly undesirable’
• The 2nd ARC headed by Veerappa Moily endorsed the recommendations.  

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