Nagaland declared “Disturbed Area” for another 6 Months, AFSPA to Continue

The AFSPA has now been in force for five decades in states in India’s northeast. Similar laws have also been used in Punjab and in Jammu and Kashmir.

nagaland AFSPA

On Wednesday Nagaland was declared a “disturbed area” for another 6 months by the Centre. This allows for the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) to be extended in the state.

The MHA said in a notification that the central government has justified the move by stating that the whole 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 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 ‘disturbed area’ for a period of six months with effect from 30th December 2020 for the purpose of the said Act,” as per the Govt. notification.

The AFSPA has not been withdrawn even after an agreement was signed on August 3, 2015 by NSCM-IM ( a Naga insurgent group) general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah and government interlocutor R N Ravi in the presence PM Narendra Modi. The agreement came after over 18 years of negotiations.

Many ethnic Nagas opposed Indian rule after the British withdrew from the region in 1947.  People of the Naga Hills united under the Naga National Council (NNC) so as to secure self rule. While India claimed that Naga Territory was part of the Indian Union, the NNC declared independence for Nagaland, and took up arms to secure the same. In 1958, AFSPA was enacted to end the armed campaign.

The AFSPA has now been in force for five decades in states in India’s northeast. Similar laws have also been used in Punjab and in Jammu and Kashmir.

The AFSPA gives the armed forces powers to shoot to kill, arrest on weak pretext, conduct warrantless searches, and demolish structures in the name of “aiding civil power.” Soldiers have raped, tortured, killed, and caused a number of “disappearances” for five decades without fear of arrest and any form of accountability. Such is the power that the AFSPA gives the armed forces.

The AFSPA is actually based on a 1942 British ordinance which was intended to contain the Indian Freedom Struggle during World War 2.

AFSPA has often been described by lawmakers as a “lawless law”. During a parliamentary debate, Laishram Achaw Singh from Manipur, said that the AFSPA would only “harass innocent folk and deteriorate the situation.”

Read: AFSPA – The tale of Agony in Nagaland

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