The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act may be partially withdrawn from some parts of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh upon Home Ministry’s request to review the states’ situation, officials told the Indian Express. Assam has been under the AFSPA for the last 27 years and about three districts of Arunachal around Assam’s border and 16 police stations come under the Act. The National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) and NSCN-K were allegedly involved in extortion and killing of security forces in these areas of Arunachal, leading to imposing of AFSPA. A senior Home Ministry official told the Indian Express that an insurgent group in Assam, United Liberation Front is conducting a peace dialogue with the government and some other groups have been neutralised. In such circumstances, a review might be necessary to partially or completely repeal the Act. The notification to review presence of AFSPA in Assam and Arunachal is sent every six months but it has been reduced to three months now, according to the official. While the proposal is only for these two states, it may extend to Manipur as well. AFSPA is currently functional in Nagaland, Manipur (save the Imphal municipal area), Meghalaya (the parts bordering Assam), and Jammu & Kashmir.
BJP had not supported the withdrawal of AFSPA citing that it would help extremists. This led to the extension of the Act in Assam and Arunachal in May for three months. A notification said that Arunachal’s border districts were infiltrated by the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) militants to escape to Myanmar and some 25 incidents of violence were reported from the area, the Indian Express reported.
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The AFSPA has been controversial as the Army and central forces have the right to “shoot to kill” in “disturbed areas” and arrest suspects without a warrant, according to the paper. The Act has been associated with several human rights violations. The official said that the Army has been replaced by Assam and Arunachal’s paramilitary forces in some areas.