AFSPA Current Affairs - 2019
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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.
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.
The government has declared the entire Assam as a “disturbed” area under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act for another 3 months. As per the notification, the entire Assam besides bordering areas of Meghalaya has been declared as “Disturbed Areas”. In addition, the government has placed three districts of Arunachal Pradesh, namely, Tirap, Changlang and Longding and other areas falling under 16 police stations bordering Assam as “disturbed” area under the AFSPA.
The government has cited various violent activities carried out by certain insurgent groups like ULFA, NDFB and others as a reason behind the extension of AFSPA. In Assam, 75 incidents of violence have been reported in 2016 and 9 in 2017. The Assam has been placed under AFSPA since November 1990. The AFSPA has been under force in the three Arunachal Pradesh districts since January 2016.
Armed Forces (Special Powers) Acts is collective name of several acts passed by Indian parliament for providing special powers to the Indian Armed Forces and to provide army officers and jawans legal immunity for their actions in disturbed areas.
Governor of the State and Central Government are empowered to declare any part or full of any state as disturbed area if it is in their opinion that it is necessary to prevent terrorist activity or any such activity that might disrupt the sovereignty of India or cause insult to the national flag, anthem or India’s Constitution. Section 4 of the act gives special powers to army officers in disturbed area to shoot (even if it kills) any individual who violates law / or is suspected of violating law (this includes assembly of five or more people, carrying of weapons) etc. The only condition is that the officer has to give warning before opening fire.