Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA):
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 the special powers to the armed forces, especially after the death of 14 civilians earlier this month in a case of mistaken identity.
- The state has been under the controversial AFSPA since 1958.
- The Centre had recently decided to constitute a committee to study the possibility of withdrawing the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) from the State.
- The committee would submit its report within 45 days.
- The withdrawal of the “disturbed area” notification and the AFSPA from Nagaland will be based on the recommendations of the committee.
- In simple terms, AFSPA gives armed forces the power to maintain public order in “disturbed areas”.
- They have the authority to prohibit a gathering of five or more persons in an area, can use force or even open fire after giving due warning if they feel a person is in contravention of the law.
- If reasonable suspicion exists, the army can also arrest a person without a warrant; enter or search premises without a warrant; and ban the possession of firearms.
- Any person arrested or taken into custody may be handed over to the officer in charge of the nearest police station along with a report detailing the circumstances that led to the arrest.
- A disturbed area is one which is declared by notification under Section 3 of the AFSPA. An area can be disturbed due to differences or disputes between members of different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities.
- The Central Government, or the Governor of the State or administrator of the Union Territory can declare the whole or part of the State or Union Territory as a disturbed area.