What is the issue ?
- The Assam government announced the extension of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) by another six months in the state.
What is AFSPA?
- AFSPA was enacted in 1958 amid the nascent Naga insurgency.
- It gives powers to the army and state and central police forces to shoot to kill, search houses and destroy any property that is “likely” to be used by insurgents in areas declared as “disturbed” by the home ministry.
- Security forces can “arrest without warrant” a person, who has committed or even “about to commit a cognizable offence” even on “reasonable suspicion”.
- It also protects them from legal processes for actions taken under the act.
How is a region declared ‘disturbed’?
- Section (3) of the AFSPA empowers the governor of the state or Union territory to issue an official notification in The Gazette of India, following which the Centre has the authority to send in armed forces for civilian aid.
- Once declared ‘disturbed’, the region has to maintain status quo for a minimum of three months, according to The Disturbed Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1976.
Which states are under AFSPA?
Jammu and Kashmir
Manipur (except the Imphal municipal area). In Arunachal Pradesh, only the Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts plus a 20-km belt bordering Assam come under its purview.
Meghalaya AFSPA is confined to a 20-km area bordering Assam.
What is state government’s role?
- The state governments can suggest whether the act is required to be enforced or not.
- But under Section (3) of the act, their opinion can be overruled by the governor or the Centre.