What’s in news?
AFSPA’s disturbed area tag have been extended for 3 months in Arunachal Pradesh, and withdrawn from 3 districts 9 districts of Arunachal Pradesh.
- A review of the law and order situation in Arunachal’s six districts was undertaken before the March 31 deadline for the validity of the “disturbed area” designation under the AFSPA.
- The “disturbed area” tag was withdrawn from the four police station areas of the Arunachal’s 3 districts on Assam border, due to the improvement of law and order situation.
- Some parts of Arunachal Pradesh has presence of banned militant outfits like NSCN, ULFA and NDFB.
- The AFSPA is imposed in areas where armed forces are required to operate in aid to civil authorities. For AFSPA to become valid, an area, however, needs to be declared disturbed either by the Central or the state government under the section 3 of the 1958 Act.
- In March 2018, AFSPA was removed completely from Meghalaya following improvement in security situation.
Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA:
- AFSPA gives armed forces (Military, Air force, Paramilitary force) the power to maintain public order in “disturbed areas”. They have the authority to
- Prohibit a gathering of five or more persons in an area,
- Can use force or even open fire after giving due warning if they feel a person is in contravention of the law.
- If reasonable suspicion exists, the army can also arrest a person without a warrant and also enter or search premises without a warrant and ban the possession of firearms.
- A death sentence can be enforced on a repeated offender who keeps on disturbing the peace of the place.
- If the Armed Forces suspect that any militant or offender is hiding in any house/building then the site or structure can be destroyed by the forces.
- Even in the case of wrongful action by the armed forces, legal action is not taken against them.
- Any Vehicle can be stopped and searched.
- Any person arrested or taken into custody may be handed over in the nearest police station along with a report detailing the circumstances that led to the arrest.
“Disturbed area” tag:
- A disturbed area is one which is declared by notification under Section 3 of the AFSPA Act.
- If an area is facing frequent differences or disputes between members of different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities, the Governor of the State / Administrator of the UT, can declare the state/UT wholly / partially as disturbed area. The notification will send to the central government, there it is decided by the Home Ministry for the implementation of the AFSPA Act there in the place.
- There may be some exceptions, where the Centre decided to forego its power and leave the decision to the State governments.
Back ground of this AFSPA act:
- A decade ago, there was increasing violence in the North eastern states. The states were unable to control. So the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Bill was passed by both the Houses of Parliament and it was approved by the President on September 11, 1958. It became known as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958.
- This act is effective in the whole of Nagaland, Mizoram, Assam, Manipur (excluding seven assembly constituencies of Imphal) and parts of Arunachal Pradesh. The Centre revoked it in Meghalaya on April 1, 2018.
- Tripura withdrew the AFSPA in 2015. Jammu and Kashmir too has a similar Act.
Controversy over this act:
- The reason for its controversies are;
- Violation of human rights.
- Misuse of their power.
- Conducting fake encounters and sexually exploiting the women in the disturbed areas.
- Manipur’s Irom Sharmila has been one if its staunchest opponents, going on a hunger strike in November 2000 and continuing her vigil till August 2016. Her trigger was an incident of ten people were killed, who waiting at a bus stop and misuse of their powers.