AFSPA Lifted From Meghalaya

New Delhi—The Indian Home Ministry has removed Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) from Meghalaya and reduced it to eight police stations in Arunachal Pradesh. Earlier the AFSPA was effective in 20 km area along the Assam-Meghalaya border.

In Arunachal Pradesh, the impact of AFSPA was reduced to eight police stations instead of 16 police stations and in Tirap, Longding and Changlang districts bordering Assam.

The Ministry has also relaxed the Protected Area Permit (PAP) for foreigners visiting Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland. The PAP will be valid for five years, but residents from Pakistan, Afghanistan and China will not be allowed to visit these areas.

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 is effective in whole of Nagaland, Assam, Manipur (excluding seven assembly constituencies of Imphal) and parts of Arunachal Pradesh. As per Section 3 of the AFSPA, it can be invoked in places “where the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary.”

The AFSPA gives power to army and central forces deployed in “disturbed areas” to kill anyone acting in contravention of law, arrest and search any premises without a warrant and provide cover to forces from prosecution and legal suits without Centre’s sanction.

The Centre was periodically issues such notifications for Assam, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya.

Tripura withdrew AFSPA in 2015. Last year, the Home Ministry gave up its power and asked the Assam government to take a decision on continuing AFSPA in the State.

On March 20, Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, MoS Home, informed the Lok Sabha that Centre was considering a proposal to make AFSPA more “operationally effective and humane.”

Ahir said there was no proposal to amend the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 in force in Jammu and Kashmir. “There is no proposal under consideration of Government of India to withdraw the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 from Jammu and Kashmir. However, a proposal is under consideration to make Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 more operationally effective and humane,” he said in a written reply in Lok Sabha.

The decision comes after Home Ministry decided to reduce the number of central armed police force personnel deployed in the north-eastern States. The Army has opposed any such move and several rounds of meetings have taken place with Home Ministry.

Another official said there was no final decision to repeal AFSPA as of now but the Jeevan Reddy Committee report that recommended so was taken into account. The Central Government appointed a five-member committee headed by Justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy in November 2004 to review AFSPA, 1958.

The committee submitted its report in 2005 that besides repealing the Act recommended that the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 should be modified to clearly specify the powers of the armed forces and central forces.

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