Centre extends AFSPA in Nagaland for six months
Days after it formed a panel to study the removal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from Nagaland, the Centre extended the application of the controversial law for six more months while calling the state’s condition “disturbed and dangerous”.
In a gazette notification issued on Thursday, the Union home ministry said: “Whereas the Central government is of the opinion that the area comprising the whole of the State of Nagaland is in such a disturbed and dangerous condition that the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary.” It added, therefore, in the exercise of the powers conferred by Section 3 of the AFSPA, the Central government declares Nagaland to be “disturbed area” for six months with effect from December 30 for the extension.
An official, who did not want to be named, pointed out “renewing such notifications on their expiry is a routine practice depending on the ground situation”.
“Any decision on the removal of AFSPA from Nagaland will only be taken after the report of the high-level committee led by Vivek Joshi (the registrar general and census commissioner of India) submits its report,” the official added.
The panel was set up to look into the possibility of withdrawing AFSPA amid anger in Nagaland over the killing of 14 civilians in Mon this month. A decision in this regard was taken at a meeting Union home minister Amit Shah held with chief ministers of Nagaland and Assam Neiphiu Rio and Himanta Biswa Sarma on December 23.
The controversial law gives sweeping powers to the armed forces to conduct operations and arrest anyone without any prior warrant. It also gives immunity to the forces if they shoot someone dead. AFSPA has been in force in Nagaland, Manipur, Assam, parts of Arunachal Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir for decades.
Protests have been going on in Nagaland for the withdrawal of the AFSPA ever since the army killed the civilians in Mon mistaking them for insurgents. The army is separately probing the killings in a botched-up operation. An inquiry team visited Mon on Wednesday and recorded statements of two witnesses