Panel to look into AFSPA withdrawal from Nagaland

On December 26, 2021, Union Government constituted a high-level committee to look into withdrawal of AFSPA from Nagaland, in the aftermath of killing of six civilians in an Army ambush on December 4, 2021.

About the Committee

  • The five-member committee is chaired by a Secretary-level officer.
  • Registrar General & Census Commissioner of India, Vivek Joshi will head the committee.
  • Additional Secretary in Union Home Ministry, Piyush Goyal, will be the Member-Secretary of the committee.
  • Other members of the committee include Chief Secretary and Director General of Police of Nagaland and the DGP of Assam Rifles.

Why this committee has been constituted?

  • Committee has been constituted because recently six civilians were killed in an Army ambush in Nagaland.
  • Following the incident, demands for repealing AFSPA have been growing louder.
  • It will examine the possibility of withdrawing the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) from Nagaland.
  • Committee has been mandated to submit its report within 45 days.
  • Withdrawal of AFSPA and Disturbed Area in Nagaland will be based on the recommendations of this committee.

What is AFSPA?

AFSPA is an Act giving armed forces the powers to arrest without warrants and even shoot to kill in specific situations in ‘disturbed areas’.  The act grants special powers to the Armed Forces to maintain public order in “disturbed areas”. Once the area has been declared ‘disturbed’, it has to maintain status quo for a minimum of 6 months, in accordance with the Disturbed Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1976.

Which states are under AFSPA?

AFSPA was imposed on the Northeast states, Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir, during militancy years. Punjab was the first state to repeal the act. It is followed by Tripura and Meghalaya. Currently, the act remains in force in Nagaland, Assam, Manipur, J&K, and parts of Arunachal Pradesh. In Assam, three districts and four police stations are under the act. Union Home Ministry had removed AFSPA from Meghalaya completely in March 2018. During 2018 and 2019, AFSPA was also removed from several police stations in Arunachal Pradesh.

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