AFSPA to continue in Nagaland
01, Jan 2019
Prelims level : GS 3: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate. Mains level : Acts
- The entire State of Nagaland has been declared ‘disturbed area’ for six more months, till June-end, under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1976.
- The Home Ministry has notified that the Central government is of the opinion that the area comprising the whole of State of Nagaland is in such a disturbed and dangerous condition that the use of armed forces in aid of civilian power is necessary.
- The Ministry further mentioned that decision has been taken as killings, loot and extortion have been going on in various parts of the State which necessitated the action.
- Hence, using the powers conferred by Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, the Central government declared the whole of the State of Nagaland as a ‘disturbed area’ for a period of six months with effect from 30th December, 2018.
- The AFSPA has been in force in Nagaland for several decades. It has not been withdrawn even after a framework agreement was signed on August 3, 2015, by the Naga insurgent group NSCN-IM general secretary and government interlocutor R.N. Ravi in the presence of Prime Minister.
- There are also demands from various organisations in the North East and Jammu and Kashmir for repealing the controversial AFSPA, which empowers these forces with ‘sweeping powers’ such as to conduct operations anywhere and arrest anyone without any prior notice.
How a region is 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.
- 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. The Armed Forces Special Power Act 1958 provides security forces special powers and immunity to tackle militant, extremist and insurgent activities in disturbed areas.
- Many reports have shown that frequent raids, fake encounters, demolition of private property and torture by the armed force made the lives of people living in the disturbed areas vulnerable.
Implications of these violations:
- Violation of fundamental rights such as Article 14, 21 guaranteed by the constitution. Abuses by army, and are rarely punished for crimes
- It alienates the people from army and then from the rest of the India. A feeling of other worldly is generated in their mind. It is also one of the main reasons for self-exclusion of J&K and North-eastern people from the rest of India
- The special powers by AFSPA also override the code of criminal procedure (CrPC)
- It is agreed that handling insurgent and extremist activities in disturbed areas need special powers and these special powers are also to preserve country’s integrity and uphold law and order. However, the nature and mechanism of AFSPA should be the way to address the concerns of human rights violations
- Phased removal of AFSPA considering the local situations.
- All human right violations should be investigated and time-bound procedure should be adopted
- The cases could also be fast-tracked
- Amendments in Laws: The lacunae in the Act, as a result of definitional voids with respect to terms like “disturbed”, “dangerous” and “land forces” need to be amplified to ensure greater clarity
- The onus of proving the alleged person as terrorists should lie with the forces. Sec 7 should be suitable amended to this effect.
- AFSPA should only be a curative, preventive and protective force and not a violative force. Steps should be made in that regard.