AFSPA revoked from Tripura
Chief Minister Manik Sarkar announced that the Tripura government has revoked the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) due to falling insurgency. The act was in force in the state since February 1997. State's tribal parties had been demanding the withdrawal of AFSPA saying that it was aimed at suppressing the 33% tribal population of the state.
AFSPA first came in the form of 'Armed Forces Special Powers Ordinance' of 1942. It was promulgated by the British on 15 August 1942 to suppress the Quit India Movement.
Irom Sharmila has been on a hunger strike for the past seven years, demanding withdrawal of AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act of 1958) from the entire North East. Under AFSPA, India's armed forces are authorized to arrest, search & destroy property and shoot or even kill without warrant, just on suspicion alone. Manipur, Sharmila's state, has been under this law since 1980.
The state government has accepted the recommendation of the State Level Coordination Committee (SLCC) about a 6-month extension for AFSPA. Out of the 70 police stations areas in the state, 34 have AFSPA in operation in full force. Tribal based Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT) opposed the decision and demanded immediate removal of the act.
The state government has decided to lessen the number of areas under the purview of AFSPA. When the act was originally promulgated in February 1997, it covered 40 of the 70 police station areas in the state. After the recent notification, it would now be effective completely in 25 police station areas and partly in 7.
Sanjay Hazarika is a former member of the National Security Advisory board and Justice Jeevan Reddy committee, which reviewed the AFSPA in 2004-05. His opinion was that AFSPA in Tripura should be amended to prevent harassment of common people at the hands of security forces. The government had refused to amend the act due to pressure from the army.
The state government has extended AFSPA fully in 24 police station areas and partly in 6 police station areas for another 6 months. The ongoing term of AFSPA would expire on December 5. According to the CM, though the insurgency has come down in the state, some insurgents are still active and are operating from Bangladesh and attempting to harm the state.
With the withdrawal of AFSPA from Tripura, the act is now in operation in seven states, viz. Jammu & Kashmir, Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Nagaland.