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Nagaland: AFSPA law extended for six months amid protests

The controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Nagaland has been extended for another six months amid heavy protests. This law gives wide powers to the security forces. The period of AFSPA has been extended at a time when the Army Court of Inquiry is conducting an inquiry into the death of civilians by ‘mistake’ during an anti-militancy campaign on December 4.

The Armed Forces (Special) Powers Act or AFSPA gives the military a wide range of powers to operate freely anywhere in areas that have been declared “disturbed areas”. In the area where AFSPA is in force, no army personnel can be prosecuted without the approval of the Centre.

On December 4, during an anti-insurgency operation in Nagaland’s Mon district, there was a ‘disturbance’ and 13 civilians returning from a mine were killed in shelling by Para Special Forces personnel of the Army. In response, the villagers attacked, which resulted in the death of a jawan.

After the death of civilians, the demand to withdraw the AFSPA law is gaining momentum. Protests were also held in many districts including Nagaland’s capital Kohima to withdraw AFSPA. In this, there was a demand to ban AFSPA.

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The Center has constituted a high-level committee to look into the possibility of removing the AFSPA in order to defuse the rising tension after the death of common people. The committee was formed after Union Home Minister Amit Shah held a meeting with Nagaland and Assam Chief Ministers Neiphiu Rio and Himanta Biswa Sarma respectively.

According to the news agency PTI, a notification of the Ministry of Home Affairs said, “The Central Government is of the opinion that the entire territory of the State of Nagaland is in such a disturbed and dangerous condition that the use of armed forces is necessary to assist the civil administration.”

According to the notification, “Therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by section three of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (No. 28 of 1958), the Central Government shall, for a period of six months with effect from the 30th day of December, 2021, declare the whole of the State of Nagaland to be ‘disturbed”.

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