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AFSPA in Nagaland extended by another six months

The AFSPA gives the Indian Army sweeping powers to search, arrest, and open fire to maintain public order in the state. It also offers the Indian Army a degree of immunity from prosecution – something that has often been criticised by civil rights groups.

December 30, 2021 / 08:53 AM IST
Representative image: (Source: AP)

Representative image: (Source: AP)

The MHA on December 30 has extended the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in Nagaland for another six months.

"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," the notification read.

Earlier on June 20, AFSPA was extended till December 31.

The AFSPA gives the Indian Army sweeping powers to search, arrest, and open fire to maintain public order in the state. It also offers the Indian Army a degree of immunity from prosecution – something that has often been criticised by civil rights groups.

Also Read: Explained: Why demands for the repeal of AFSPA are growing again

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On December 26, the Centre constituted a high-level committee, headed by a secretary-rank officer, to examine the possibility of lifting the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in Nagaland, apparently to soothe the rising tension in the northeastern state over the killing of 14 civilians.

The committee was set up three days after Union Home Minister Amit Shah held a meeting with Chief Ministers of Nagaland and Assam Neiphiu Rio and Himanta Biswa Sarma respectively.

The December 23 meeting, held in New Delhi, was also attended by Nagaland Deputy Chief Minister Y Patton and former chief minister of Nagaland T R Zeliang.

The panel was to submit its report within 45 days. The committee was set up to look into the possibility of the withdrawal of the AFSPA in Nagaland, where it has been operational for decades, and a decision will be taken on the basis of its recommendations.

Also Read | Civilian killings could complicate Naga peace process, result in retaliatory attacks

Officials said that disciplinary action was also likely to be taken against the army personnel after a fair inquiry. The said person was directly involved in the botched counter-insurgency operation in Nagaland's Mon district in early December.

The army personnel may be placed under suspension pending the probe, another government official said.

Protests have been going on in several districts of Nagaland for the withdrawal of the AFSPA, ever since an army unit killed the 14 civilians in Mon mistaking them as insurgents.

The AFSPA empowers security forces to conduct operations and arrest anyone without any prior warrant. It also gives immunity to the forces if they shoot someone dead.

The Nagaland chief minister earlier tweeted: Briefed the media with regard to the meeting chaired by Hon'ble @HMOIndia Shri @AmitShah on Dec' 23, 2021 in New Delhi. Grateful to Amit Shah ji for taking up the matter with utmost seriousness. The State Govt. appeals to all sections to continue to maintain a peaceful atmosphere".

AFSPA was not withdrawn from Nagaland even after a framework agreement was signed by Naga insurgent groups and government interlocutor RN Ravi in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015. The other states in the Northeast that are under AFSPA by a central order are Assam, Manipur, and Arunachal Pradesh.
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