The Centre decreased the areas in Manipur, Nagaland, and Assam where the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) was in effect on Thursday, which is a significant development.
In the course of counter-insurgency efforts, AFSPA allows security personnel considerable powers to arrest, shoot to kill, and occupy civilian property. In some situations, it also grants immunity from prosecution.
The decision was announced by Union Home Minister Amit Shah. “In a landmark step, the Government of India, led by Prime Minister Shri @NarendraModi Ji, has agreed to reduce disturbed areas in the states of Nagaland, Assam, and Manipur under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) after decades,” Shah tweeted.
“Improved security situation and fast-tracked development owing to PM @narendramodi government’s persistent efforts and various agreements to end insurgency and create sustainable peace in North East,” Shah said.
“The northeast, which has been neglected for decades, is now experiencing a new period of peace, prosperity, and unparalleled development,” Shah remarked. Demands to repeal AFSPA have resonated for decades, but they resurfaced in December after the Indian Army shot and killed 13 villagers in Nagaland’s Mon district in a case of mistaken identity.
With effect from April 1, the statement on Thursday is expected to significantly restrict the territories covered by AFSPA. However, the law has not been repealed entirely.
In the run-up to the recent assembly elections, Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh mentioned likely steps to remove or relax AFSPA implementation. Himanta Biswa Sarma, the Chief Minister of Assam, had previously stated that “good news” on AFSPA will be forthcoming in 2022.