Arunachal Pradesh Current Affairs

Entire Assam declared as ‘disturbed’ area under AFSPA for another month

The Union Home Ministry has declared entire Assam state as a disturbed area under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act for one more month, citing various violent activities by insurgent groups ULFA, NDFB, and others.

The Home Ministry also declared 20 km belt along Meghalaya’s border areas adjoining Assam and three districts in Arunachal Pradesh (Tirap, Changlang and Longding) as disturbed under the AFSPA for two more months.

Background

AFSPA has been continuing in Assam since November 1990. In 2016, there were 75 incidents of violence reported in Assam in which 33 people, including four security personnel, were killed and 14 others were abducted. The violence was perpetrated in Assam by insurgent groups like ULFA, NDFB and others. Similarly, continuing violence perpetrated by NSCN(K), NSCN(IM), ULFA, NDFB, and others were key reasons for continuing with AFSPA in Arunachal Pradesh. Meghalaya too has witnessed violence by ULFA, NDFB militants in the recent past.

About Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act

The AFSPA was enacted by the parliament in 1958. It grants extra-ordinary powers and immunity to the armed forces to bring back order in the disturbed areas. Some of these extra-ordinary powers include fire upon anyone after giving warning who is acting against law & order in the disturbed area, arrest anyone without warrant, stop and search any vehicle or vessel, legal immunity to armed forces personnel for their actions.

Note: Presently AFSPA is enforced in the 6 states of North East (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland) and Jammu and Kashmir. It was lifted in Tripura in May 2015.

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Expert Committee Constituted to examine Rules on Movement of People Near Indo-Myanmar Border

Ministry of Home Affairs has constituted an expert committee to examine the rules which allow free movement of people near Indo-Myanmar border. Indian and Myanmarese citizens are permitted free movement within 16 km of the international border, but these rules are widely exploited by militants for smuggling arms, drugs, and fake Indian currency.

The decision to constitute an MHA panel was taken at a meeting of chief ministers of the northeastern states which share a border with Myanmar. This is for the first time that meeting with the state governments has been called to discuss the issues concerning the Myanmar border. The meeting was attended by Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju and chief ministers of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Mizoram, and the Home Minister of Nagaland.

Salient Highlights

The expert committee would be headed by the special secretary (Internal Security) in the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The panel will examine the rules and regulations adopted by the border states for free movement of the people. It has to suggest for uniform and effective implementation of free movement regime in the states which share a porous border with Myanmar

The committee has to come up with standard operating procedures common to all the four states that will provide effective measures to filter out militants, criminals and contraband at the border without causing inconvenience to genuine people.

The panel has to submit its report within three months. 

Background

India shares 1,643-km long border with Myanmar that passes through four states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram. At present, both Indian and Myanmarese citizens are permitted a visa-free movement regime within 16 km on either side of the border. They are permitted to stay up to 72 hours with valid permits. These rules were kept in place in view of the traditional and social ties among the border people. There are over 240 villages with an estimated population of 2.5 lakh people living within 10 km of the border. However, India’s international border with Myanmar is very porous with cross-border movement of insurgents and smuggling of arms and ammunition being very common.

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