The Union Home Ministry has removed Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) from Meghalaya and reduced it to eight police stations in Arunachal Pradesh, an official said on Monday.
“AFSPA was totally withdrawn from all areas of Meghalaya from April 1. In Arunachal, it is down from 16 police stations to eight,” the official said.
The Act has however been extended by another six months in three eastern districts of Arunachal Pradesh — Tirap, Longding and Changlang — which border Myanmar and specific areas under eight police stations of seven other districts bordering Assam. The three districts have been under the AFSPA since January 2016.
The Act was withdrawn from Tripura in 2015 and in past one year, fewer areas in northeast are under the Act, the official said, adding that the Act was only in place in Meghalaya for a a 20-km area along the Assam border) and not in operation in Mizoram.
AFSPA gives powers to the Army and central forces deployed in “disturbed areas” to kill anyone acting in contravention of law, arrest and search any premises without a warrant and provide cover to forces from prosecution and legal suits without the Central government’s sanction.
It is effective in the whole of Nagaland, Assam, Manipur (excluding seven Assembly constituencies of Imphal). The state governments of Assam and Manipur now have the powers to keep or revoke the Act. Tripura withdrew the AFSPA in 2015. Jammu and Kashmir too has a similar Act.
Meanwhile, with the Centre revoking the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from Meghalaya and parts of Arunachal Pradesh, the call for immediate revocation of the said Act from J&K has grown louder.
Moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has sought the immediate revocation of the Act from the state, saying if AFSPA could be removed from the north-eastern regions, why not this region?
“For the past 30 years, draconian and oppressive #AFSPA has played havoc with our lives. Time and again we have demanded its withdrawal. If GOI can remove it from its north-eastern territories, this cruel and merciless power bestowed upon 8 lakh Indian forces in J&K should be revoked immediately!” Mirwaiz tweeted.
While terming the revocation of AFSPA from the north-eastern states as a good news, public works minister and J&K Government spokesman Naeem Akhtar emphasised the need for creating conditions for its removal from the state, while also appealing to Pakistan to help in this effort.
“Good news. We all need to work for creating conditions conducive for its revocation in J&K as well. No state can permanently be governed through emergency laws in a democracy. Our neighbours too have to realise and help in this effort,” Naeem said in a tweet.