The controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which allow security forces to conduct operations anywhere and arrest anyone without any prior warrant, was promulgated in Nagaland and Manipur in view of the “disturbing situations”, officials said on Wednesday.
An official of the Nagaland Home Department said in Kohima that the entire Nagaland on Wednesday was declared as a “disturbed area” for another six months by the Union Home Ministry.
The AFSPA has been in force in Nagaland for several decades and has not been withdrawn despite a framework agreement was signed on August 3, 2015 by Naga insurgent Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM).
The dominant group of the Naga outfit – NSCN-IM – had entered into a ceasefire agreement with the central government in August 1997 and since then engaged in peace talks.
The outfit has held around 80 rounds of negotiations with the Central government in Delhi and even outside India after signing a ceasefire pact 23 years ago.
The central government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had signed a “framework agreement” with the NSCN-IM in 2015.The NSCN-IM and the intelligence sources said that while many of the 31 demands of the Nagas have been almost resolved during the talks with the Centre, differences remain over a separate flag and a separate constitution.
Nagalim, a long-pending demand of the NSCN-IM for a separate Naga state, encompasses the Naga-inhabited areas of Myanmar as well as parts of the northeastern states bordering Nagaland.
Nagaland Governor and the central government’s interlocutor for the Naga peace talks R.N. Ravi has recently rejected the demand for a separate flag and constitution for the state as demanded by the NSCN (IM).
In Manipur, in the wake of recent violent activities of the various terrorist outfits, the Manipur government has extended the ‘disturbed area status’ under the AFSPA across the state, barring Imphal municipal areas.
A senior Manipur Home Department official said that the promulgation of “disturbed area” status provides sweeping powers to the army, para-military forces and various other security forces deployed in the state.
The Act has been in force in Manipur since 1980 and in several other northeastern states to curb terrorism and was extended from time to time.
Manipur’s Special Secretary, Home, H. Gyan Prakash, in a notification, said that the Governor Najma Heptulla is of the opinion that due to the violent activities of various extremists and insurgent groups, the entire state is in such a disturbed condition that the use of armed forces in aid of the civil powers is necessary.
“The promulgation of the AFSPA would be effective for one more year with the retrospective effect from December 1,” said the notification.Besides Manipur, the AFSPA is also in force in Assam and Nagaland, and in the Tirap and Changlang districts of Arunachal Pradesh.
Terming the Act as a “draconian law”, renowned human rights activist Irom Chanu Sharmila of Manipur had fought for 16 long years till mid 2016 demanding to repeal of the AFSPA.
Tripura is the only state where the AFSPA was withdrawn by the then Left Front government led by Communist Party of India-Marxist veteran and Chief Minister Manik Sarkar in 1998 after terror activities were tamed.