The controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) was partially removed from Arunachal Pradesh, 32 years after it was imposed, a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) order said on Tuesday.
The Act, which gives sweeping powers to security forces, was partially withdrawn from three of the state’s nine districts, but would remain in force in the areas bordering Myanmar, the MHA order said.
AFSPA is declared in areas where armed forces are required to operate in aid to civil authorities. However, for AFSPA to become valid, an area needs to be declared “disturbed” either by the Central or the state government under Section 3 of the Act.
As per the MHA’s notification on Tuesday, the four police station areas in Arunachal Pradesh which were declared “disturbed areas” under AFSPA are no longer under the purview of the special law. The police station areas from where the AFSPA has been withdrawn are Balemu and Bhalukpong police stations in West Kameng district, Seijosa police station in East Kameng district and Balijan police station in Papumpare district.
However, AFSPA will continue to be enforced in Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts and four police stations areas under the jurisdiction of Namsai and Mahadevpur in Namsai district, Roing in Lower Dibang Valley district, and Sunpura in Lohit district for six more months till September 30.
Arunachal Pradesh became a state on February 20, 1987, and since its inception, the controversial AFSPA – enacted by Parliament in 1958 – was applied to the certain parts of the state. In 2018, MHA had reduced AFPSA from 16 police stations areas bordering Assam to eight police stations, besides Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts, adjoining Myanmar.
One of the reasons cited by the Centre for imposing AFSPA in Arunachal’s Tirap, Changlang and Longding – all bordering Assam – and 16 other police station areas was the extortion and killing of security forces by the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) and NSCN-K. While NSCN-IM signed a framework agreement with the government, NSCN-K capabilities have been depleted after death of its leader SS Khaplang, an official said.
The official added, “We want the people in the state to live a normal life, considering the situation in these areas have improved. The major insurgent group of North East, United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) is in peace talks with the government while smaller groups have been neutralised.”