Govt declares Nagaland ‘disturbed area’ for 6 more months amid demands for AFSPA withdrawal
New Delhi: Nagaland will continue to be a “disturbed area” for another six months under the AFSPA as the condition of the state remained “dangerous”, a move which comes amid growing clamour for withdrawal of special powers to armed forces especially after the death of 14 civilians earlier this month in a case of mistaken identity.
In a notification issued on Thursday, the Ministry of Home Affairs said that the disturbed area under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act was extended for six months from December 30.
The state has been under the controversial AFSPA since 1958. The Act is an offshoot of Britishers Armed Forces Special Ordinance of 1942.
The extension comes three days after the Centre constituted a high-level committee under the chairmanship of Registrar General and Census Commissioner Vivek Joshi with Additional Secretary in the Union Home Ministry Piyush Goyal as its Member-Secretary.
The Chief Secretary and Director General of Police of Nagaland and the Director General of Assam Rifles are among the other members of the committee.
The committee is supposed to submit its report within 45 days.
Thursday’s notification said the Centre “is of the opinion that the area comprising the whole of the state of Nagaland is in such a disturbed and dangerous condition that the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary.
“Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (No.28 of 1958) the Central Government hereby declares that whole of the State of Nagaland to be ‘disturbed area’ for a period of six months with effect from December 30, 2021, for the purpose of the said Act,” the home ministry notification issued by Goyal, the member secretary in the high-level panel, said.
People in Nagaland have been demanding withdrawal of AFSPA and it gained momentum after the army killed six civilians mistaking them as insurgents on December 3 and later on bumped off eight villagers in Mon district of the state as the villagers went on rampage and had killed one soldier in anger.
The anger among the people pushed the Nagaland government to call a special one-day session on December 20 where the assembly unanimously resolved to demand the repeal of AFSPA.
It said that the House “appreciated and supported” citizens and civil society organisations over their demand for the repeal of AFSPA and delivery of justice and appealed to “all sections to follow democratic norms and non-violence in the collective endeavour towards realisation of peace and delivery of justice”.
The AFSPA empowers security forces to conduct operations and arrest anyone without any prior warrant besides giving immunity from arrest and prosecution to the security forces if they shoot someone dead.