AFSPA completely revoked from Meghalaya, diluted in Arunachal Pradesh
In a major move, the Home Ministry has completely revoked the controversial AFSPA from Meghalaya, and diluted it in some parts of Arunachal Pradesh. This leaves the Act operational in just eight police stations of Arunachal, down from 16 last year. In case of Meghalaya, 40% was under AFSPA as of September. However, it has been extended by six months in three Arunachal districts.
What is the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA)?
Under AFSPA, a state governor or the central government can declare any part of a state that is experiencing insurgency and requires the deployment of armed forces as "disturbed." Controversially, AFSPA provides impunity to security personnel from investigation and murder charges under various circumstances. They are also given powers to arrest without a warrant and search or destroy property possibly used by insurgents
Why is it being revoked?
The ministry said it had decided to revoke the Act after a recent review with the Meghalaya government. Insurgency-related incidents have come down 63% in the last four years, it said, along with an 83% drop in civilian deaths and 40% fall in armed personnel casualties. However, compared to 2000, insurgency-related incidents in the northeast have come down 85%, the ministry said.
Increased aid for surrendered militants, relaxed area permits
Among other decisions, the Home Ministry has enhanced aid under the surrender-cum-rehabilitation policy for northeast militants from Rs. 1L to Rs. 4L. The policy will be applicable retrospectively from April 1, 2018. Area permits (restricted/protected) for foreigners visiting Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland have also been relaxed. However, restrictions will remain for "countries of concern," including Pakistan, China and Afghanistan.
Where in the northeast does AFSPA still remain active?
The Act has been withdrawn from more and more areas in recent years. It was revoked from Tripura in 2015. It isn't in operation in Mizoram either. However, AFPSA remains active almost entirely in Assam, Nagaland and Manipur. The Assam and Manipur governments have the authority to keep or revoke the Act.