Nagaland seeks AFSPA repeal

In the aftermath of security forces’ killing of 14 civilians in Mon district of Nagaland, the National People’s Party MP Agatha Sangma asked in Lok Sabha to repeal the draconian Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. The Chief Minister of Nagaland, Neiphiu Rio, also demanded to repeal the AFSPA.

Key Points

  • During the Zero Hour of the Lok Sabha, the MP noted that, this is not the first such incident where innocent civilians had to suffer due to draconian laws like the AFSPA.
  • In the year 2000, an incident that took place in Manipur called as “the Malom Massacre”. In the incident, more than ten civilians were shot dead.

What is the issue?

21 Para Commando Unit killed a group of daily wage workers who were returning to their village, following an information that some NSCN(K) terrorists were roaming in the area.

AFSPA in Nagaland

In June 2021, Ministry of Home Affairs had declared the entire State of Nagaland as a “disturbed area” for six more months in accordance with the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA). The norms were extended for six more months citing that, Nagaland is in such a “disturbed and dangerous condition” that it is necessary to use the armed forces in aid of civil power.

What is AFSPA?

  • AFSPA provides power to the armed forces to maintain public order in disturbed areas.
  • Under the act, armed forces have the power to prohibit a gathering of five or more persons in an area.
  • They are free to use force or even open fire after giving warning, in case they feel the person is in contravention of the law.
  • Armed forces are also empowered to arrest a person without giving warrant, ban the possession of firearms and enter or search premises without any warrant.

What is a “disturbed area”?

A disturbed area is declared by notification under Section 3 of the AFSPA. An area can be declared as “disturbed area” due to differences or disputes between members of different religious, language or regional groups, or castes or communities. Power to declare the whole or part of the State or Union Territory as disturbed area lies with the Central Government, or Governor of the State or administrator of the Union Territory.

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