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AFSPA Withdrawn From Meghalaya As Insurgency Incidents In Northeast Drop By 85%

DIVYIA ASTHANA | 0
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| April 24 , 2018 , 08:18 IST

After nearly 27 years, the Centre has withdrawn the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) entirely from Meghalaya and from 8 of the 16 police stations in Arunachal Pradesh with effect from March 31, 2018.

Since the peak of militancy in the northeast region approximately 20 years ago, insurgency-related incidents have dropped by 85 percent. In 2017, the lowest insurgency-related incidents and casualties since 1997 had been reported, with only 308 incidents in 2017 as compared to 1,963 incidents in 2007. The casualties of civilians and security forces also fell by 96 percent.

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The AFSPA grants special powers and immunity to the armed forces deployed in areas declared as 'disturbed' under the Act and had been in place in Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh since 1991 to avoid spillover effect of insurgency by Assam-based outfits.

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act will continue to be in force in the whole of Assam and Nagaland, all of Manipur except Imphal, and selected areas of Arunachal Pradesh. AFSPA had been lifted from Tripura in 2015, after a period of 18 years. The AFSPA has been in place in Nagaland for around 60 years.

According to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), in areas marked as "disturbed" Army officers have the right to fire upon or use force against persons acting against law and order, to arrest without warrant, to enter and search any premises, to stop and search any vehicle and have legal immunity for their actions.

Apart from the northeast, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act was applied to Punjab and Chandigarh in 1983 where it was withdrawn in 1997 and also to Jammu and Kashmir in 1990 where it continues to be in force.