Imphal: In a historic decision, the Central government has reduced the disturbed areas under the contentious Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act- 1958 from Assam, Manipur and Nagaland states of North East.
The Act (AFSPA-1958), which is the adaptation of the erstwhile British colonial government’s Armed Forces Special Powers Ordinance of 1942, had been in force to suppress militancy in the North East for decades.
Under the Act, any part or whole State/Union Territory could be declared as a ‘disturbed area’ by the Governor of that State or the Administrators of that Union Territory or the Central Government to protect State from internal disturbance.
“In a significant step, GoI under the decisive leadership of PM Shri Narendra Modi Ji has decided to reduce disturbed areas under Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the states of Nagaland, Assam and Manipur after decades,” Union Home Minister, Amit Shah tweeted after the Central Government decided to reduce the disturbed area under the Act.
“Reduction in areas under AFSPA is a result of the improved security situation and fast-tracked development due to the consistent efforts and several agreements to end insurgency and bring lasting peace in North East by PM Narendra Modi government. Our North-Eastern region, which was neglected for decades is now witnessing a new era of peace, prosperity and unprecedented development,” the Home Minister said.
While congratulating the people of North East on this momentous occasion, Amit Shah extended his gratitude to PM Narendra Modi’s unwavering commitment.
AFSPA in North-East
After the British era’s Armed Forces Special Powers Ordinance of 1942, the then President of India, Dr Rajendra Prasad, promulgated Armed Forces (Assam and Manipur) Special Powers Ordinance 1958 on September 11 1958. The Act was later renamed as (AFSPA) 1958.
The Act was imposed in seven North-East states, including Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram Nagaland and Tripura. Later, AFSPA was removed from Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura with the improvement of the security situation. The Act was totally removed from Meghalaya after almost 28 years in 2018, Tripura after 18 years in 2015, and Mizoram after 14 years of imposition in 1997.
In 2015, AFSPA was in force in 3 districts of Arunachal Pradesh, 20 km. belt of Arunachal Pradesh along the Assam border and in 16 police station areas in 9 other districts of the State. This has been gradually reduced, and the Disturbed Areas Notification is currently applicable in only three districts and two police station areas in 1 other district of Arunachal Pradesh.
The removal of the Act depended on the improvement of the security situation in the disturbed area. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, the decision to reduce the disturbed areas in Assam, Manipur, and Nagaland came after significant improvement in the ‘security situation’ of the three states. The sincere approach of Narendra Modi and the improvement in the security situation after he became the Prime Minister in 2014 is praiseworthy. From 2014 to 2021, militancy incidents have been reduced by 74 per cent, while deaths of security personnel and civilians have also come down by 60 per cent and 84 per cent, respectively, in the Northeast states.
In his effort to make the region free from extremism, dialogues were held with concerned State governments and stakeholders on a regular basis. As a result, most of the extremist groups have laid down their arms, expressing their faith in the Constitution of India and the policies of the Modi government. Around 7,000 militants had surrendered during the period.
In the last three years, the Government of India has signed several agreements to end insurgencies and bring lasting peace to the Northeastern States. Notably, the Bodo Accord of January 2020 resolved the five decades-long Bodo problems of Assam and the Karbi-
Anglong Agreement, which resolved the long-standing dispute over the Karbi region of Assam, was signed on September 4 2021.
Similarly, the NLFT (SD) agreement was signed in August 2019 to bring militants into the mainstream of society in Tripura. After that, a historic agreement was signed on January 16, 2020, to resolve the 23-year-old Bru-Reang refugee crisis, under which 37,000 internally displaced persons are being resettled in Tripura. On March 29, 2022, another important agreement was signed regarding the boundaries of Assam and Meghalaya.
AFSPA in Present
Disturbed Area Notification has been in force in the whole of Assam since 1990. Due to the significant improvement in the situation after Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister in 2014, now AFSPA is being removed with effect from April 1 2022, completely from 23 districts and partially from 1 district of Assam.
The Disturbed Area Declaration has been in force in the entire Manipur (except the Imphal Municipality area) since 2004. Taking an important step under the leadership of Narendra Modi, 15 police station areas of 6 districts of Manipur will be excluded from the Disturbed Area Notification with effect from April 1 2022.
The Disturbed Area Notification has been in force in the whole of Nagaland since 1995. The Central Government has accepted the recommendation of a committee constituted in this context for the withdrawal of AFSPA in a phased manner. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Disturbed Area Notification is being withdrawn from 15 police stations in 7 districts in Nagaland with effect from April 1 2022.
Thanks, from North-East
“I wholeheartedly welcome Adarniya PM Shri Narendra Modi ji’s decision to withdraw AFSPA from all areas of Assam barring 9 districts and 1 sub-division. Also convey my gratitude to HM Shri Amit Shah ji for this great move. Around 60% of State’s area will now be free from AFSPA’s purview. I also compliment the people of Assam, who have believed in peace. Due to Adarniya PM Shri Narendra Modi ji’s visionary leadership, the region is all set to become the new engine of India’s growth–Ashtalakshmi,” Chief Minister of Assam tweeted.
AFSPA has been in force since 1990, and this move marks the beginning of a new chapter in Assam’s future. It is a testimony to the significant improvement in law and order in the State. With peace getting primacy, North East is now on a new trajectory of growth and development, said the Chief Minister of Assam.
His Cabinet Minister, Ashok Singhal, also extended his gratitude to PM Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah for their concern for North East and its people. “The people of North East are truly overwhelmed at GoI’s decision to reduce disturbed areas under AFSPA in Nagaland, Assam & Manipur after decades,” tweeted Cabinet Minister of Assam.
While welcoming the decision of the Central government to reduce the disturbed areas under AFSPA, Chief Minister of Manipur, Nongthombam Biren Singh, tweeted, “This historic decision is a result of the robust development and improved security situation under various initiatives taken up by Hon’ble PM Shri Narendra Modi ji in the North East. This decision will lead to a new era of peace, prosperity and development in Manipur yet again.”
“With PM Modi ji at the helm, Hon’ble Union HM Amit Shah ji have played a crucial role ending insurgency in the entire North East and bring peace and development in the region. Hon’ble HM Shri Amit Shah ji will always have a special place for in our hearts,” Chief Minister of Manipur, Nongthombam Biren Singh, thanked the Prime Minister and Union Home Minister in his tweet while extending his happiness and gratitude to Prime Minister and Union Home Minister for the “Unwavering support to make this feat possible today”.
“The people of Manipur are immensely thankful to PM Narendra Modi for the love and support he had extended to the people of Manipur over the years,” the Chief Minister of Manipur added.
Chief Minister of Nagaland, Neiphiu Rio, also thanked the Prime Minister and Home Minister in a tweet, “Grateful to GoI under the leadership of PMOIndia Shri Narendra Modi ji & Amit Shah ji for reducing disturbed areas under AFSPA in the states of Nagaland, Assam & Manipur. This is a significant development towards bringing stability, security & prosperity to the North East region.”