Kohima: An official notification from the Union ministry of home affairs on Monday declared Nagaland a disturbed area for six more months under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) with effect from December 30.
“Whereas the Central Government is of the opinion that the area comprising the whole of State of Nagaland is in such a disturbed and dangerous condition that the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary,” the statement said.
Issued by Satyendra Garg, joint secretary, the notification read: “Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (No 28 of 1958) the Central government hereby declares that the whole of the said state to be a disturbed area ‘for a period of six months with effect from December 30, 2019 for the purpose of that Act.”
The AFSPA has been in force in Nagaland for decades. It has not been withdrawn even after a framework agreement was signed on August 3, 2015 by Naga insurgent group NSCN-IM general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah and government interlocutor RN Ravi in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The framework agreement came after over 80 rounds of negotiating spanning 18 years with the first breakthrough in 1977 when the ceasefire agreement was sealed after decades if insurgency in Nagaland.
A home ministry official said the decision to continue the declaration of Nagaland as “disturbed area” has been taken as killings, loot and extortion have been going on in various parts of the state which necessitated the action for the convenience of the security forces operating there.
Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), 1958 is an act of the Parliament of India that grants special powers to the Indian Armed Forces the power to maintain public order in “disturbed areas”.
According to The Disturbed Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1976 once declared ‘disturbed’, the area has to maintain status quo for a minimum of three months. One such Act passed on September 11, 1958 was applicable to the Naga Hills, then part of Assam.
In the following decades it spread, one by one, to the other Seven Sister States in India’s northeast (at present it is in force in Assam, Nagaland, Manipur excluding Imphal municipal council area, Changlang, Longding and Tirap districts of Arunachal Pradesh). Another one passed in 1983 and applicable to Punjab and Chandigarh was withdrawn in 1997, roughly 14 years after it came to force. An Act passed in 1990 was applied to Jammu and Kashmir and has been in force since.
The Acts have received criticism from several sections for alleged concerns about human rights violations in the regions of its enforcement alleged to have happened.
National politicians like P Chidambaram and Saifuddin Soz of Congress have advocated revocation of AFSPA, while some like Amrinder Singh are against its revocation.
However, various civil societies had publicly been denouncing the Act. EastMojo had earlier reported on how three innocent civilians were taken at gunpoint over mistaken identity following condemnations by civil societies.