Nagaland Chief Minister Mr. Neiphiu Rio has demanded the withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special powers Act from the state following the death of 14 civilians in the Army operation against the Naga insurgents in the Mon district of Nagaland on 4 December 2021.Nagaland’s Mon district
Nagaland’s Mon district borders Myanmar from where members of the NSCN (Khaplang-Yung Aung) are said to carry out hit-and-run operations.
The Konyak Union, the apex body of the Konyak Naga Tribe from the Mon district of Nagaland has also demanded the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act or, AFSPA, from the entire Northeast of India and withdrawal of Assam Rifles from the Mon district of Nagaland .
The Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangama has also demanded the withdrawal of AFSPA from Manipur .
The Nagaland government has two member Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate the circumstances leading to the killing of the civilians by the armed forces.
AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act )1958
To deal with the Naga insurgents in the Naga denominated areas of the state of Assam and the Union Territory of Manipur the Government of India parliament passed a law Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958(AFSPA), which was later extended to Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura.
Under this act President ,Governor of the has the power to declare the whole or a part of the state as a disturbed area.
It confers special powers to certain officers of the armed forces to:
Use force and fire upon people if it is necessary to maintain law and order.
Arrest any person without warrant any person on which there is a suspicion that he is about to commit a cognizable offence
Search any premise or house for recovery of arms and ammunition .
The arrested person has to be handed over to the nearest police station without delay
No prosecution, suit or other legal proceeding shall be instituted, except with the previous sanction of the Central Government, against any person in respect of anything done or purported to be done in exercise of the powers conferred by this Act.
Similar law has been enacted by the Parliament for other regions of India which are facing insurgency .
The Armed Forces (Punjab and Chandigarh) Special Powers Act, 1983 was enacted to deal with the terrorism in Punjab. It was withdrawn in 1997.
The Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 was enacted by the Parliament to give special powers to the armed forces to deal with insurgency and terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.
The wide power given to the Armed force has also given rise to its abuse. In any counter -insurgency operation there is bound to be civilian casualties . The civilian casualties have inflamed the local public opinion against the armed forces .
Committee and Commission report on AFSPA
Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee set up by the Government of India in 2004 on AFSPA recommended the repeal of the law. It was rejected by the Government of India
The Second Administrative Reform Commission headed by Veerappa Moily also recommended its repeal.
Why Government is not repealing the act
The armed forces operating in the area says that they need the law operate in a very hostile area were the local population is also hostile to the armed forces.
Army officials also cite the need to protect the morale and integrity of the army as reason not to scrutinize allegations against army personnel.
Currently, AFSPA is in effect in Jammu and Kashmir, Nagaland, Assam, Manipur (excluding seven assembly constituencies of Imphal) and parts of Arunachal Pradesh.
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