April 20, 2024

Lukmaan IAS

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AFSPA EXTENSION IN ARUNACHAL PRADESH AND NAGALAND

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TAG: GS 3: INTERNAL SECURITY

THE CONTEXT: The extension of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in parts of Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for another six months has sparked discussions regarding security measures in these regions.

EXPLANATION:

  • AFSPA, known for granting extensive powers to armed forces in disturbed areas, continues to be a controversial subject due to its implications on human rights and civil liberties.
  • AFSPA empowers armed forces and Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) in designated “disturbed areas.”
  • Provides authority to take actions such as killing, arrest, and search without warrants.
  • Grants immunity from prosecution without Central government sanction, leading to concerns about misuse of power.
  • MHA extended AFSPA in specific districts and police stations of Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Eight districts and 21 police stations in Nagaland and three districts along with specific police stations in Arunachal Pradesh are covered.
  • Notifications issued under Section 3 of AFSPA for a six-month period effective from April 1.

Purpose of Extension:

  • Aimed at maintaining security and combating insurgency or other threats in the designated areas.
  • Reflects ongoing concerns about the prevailing situation necessitating continued military presence and special powers.

Historical Context:

  • AFSPA extensions are periodic and indicate the persistence of security challenges in these regions.
  • Previous extensions suggest a recurring need for maintaining security measures despite efforts for peace and stability.

Impact on Civil Liberties:

  • Raises concerns about potential violations of human rights and civil liberties due to the broad powers granted to armed forces.
  • Critics argue that AFSPA undermines accountability and can lead to instances of excessive use of force and impunity.

Regional Dynamics:

  • Nagaland and parts of Arunachal Pradesh have experienced insurgency and unrest in the past.
  • Security concerns stemming from various insurgent groups or ethnic tensions contribute to the justification for AFSPA extension.

Public Discourse and Opposition:

  • AFSPA extensions often face opposition from civil society organizations, human rights activists, and local communities.
  • Calls for repeal or amendment of AFSPA highlight concerns about its impact on civilian populations and the need for alternative approaches to address security challenges.

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958:

  • The Act came into force in 1958 in the context of increasing violence in the Northeastern States, which the State governments found difficult to control.
  • 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.
  • AFSPA gives armed forces the power to maintain public order in “disturbed areas”.
  • Under the Act, armed forces 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; enter or search a premises without a warrant and ban the possession of firearms.
  • Any person arrested or taken into custody may be handed over to the officer in charge of the nearest police station along with a report detailing the circumstances that led to the arrest.

SOURCE: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/centre-extends-afspa-in-three-districts-three-police-stations-of-arunachal-pradesh-for-six-months/article68001962.ece

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