February 5, 2021 12:50:59 am
Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh on Thursday said that his government has been urging the Centre to withdraw the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from the state as the law-and-order situation has improved significantly. The AFSPA gives sweeping powers to the security forces to maintain public order in ‘disturbed areas.’
The CM’s remark was in response to a query raised from the Opposition benches during a discussion on the Motion of Thanks to the Governor’s address on Wednesday. “We have been urging the central government to withdraw AFSPA as the law-and-order situation in Manipur has improved considerably. We are ready to take adequate measures to ensure it is rolled back,” Singh said.
Highlighting measures to be taken in this regard, the CM said that his government will review the Suspension of Operation (SoO), a treaty with several armed groups, to rectify issues dogging the agreement. On the ongoing Indo-Naga Peace talks, he stated that his government is hopeful of a peaceful resolution of all thorny issues between the NSCN -IM and the Union government.
The Opposition stressed the need to have AFSPA withdrawn from Manipur, and especially in the Greater Imphal area, citing the government’s claim of improvement in the law-and-order situation.
On December 1 last year, the Manipur government extended the “Disturbed Area” status in the entire state, with the exception of Imphal Municipal areas, for another year. Promulgation of “Disturbed Area” status creates the ground for the enforcement of AFSPA.
The “Disturbed Area” tag was extended following the approval of Manipur Governor Dr. Najma Heptulla, citing the violence perpetrated by extremist/insurgent groups, which she said makes the use of armed forces in aid of civilian government necessary. The Act has been in force in the state since 1980 and has seen periodic extensions.
However, in August 2004, the AFSPA was lifted from seven Assembly segments of Imphal Municipal areas following massive protests against the alleged rape and murder of Thangjam Manorama, a civilian, in the custody of Assam Rifles.
In her address on the opening day of the Budget session, the Governor said the ongoing vaccination against Covid-19 will enable the government to forge ahead with its development plans. She added that Manipur was named the most innovative of all the Northeast states in the India Innovation Index, 2020 released by the NITI Aayog.
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