The Union Government has extended the “disturbed area” tag under Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) for three districts of Arunachal Pradesh for another six months, while withdrawing it partly from three other districts bordering Assam.
The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act was enacted in 1958 to bring under control what the government of India considered ‘disturbed’ areas.
The state or central government considers those areas as ‘disturbed’ “by reason of differences or disputes between members of different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities.
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 AFSPA offers powers to the Army and Central forces deployed in disturbed areas to kill anyone acting in contravention of law,arrest and search any premises without a warrant.These armed forces are immune from prosecution unless Union Government provides sanction to the prosecuting agencies.
Currently,AFSPA Act,1958 is operational in the whole of (a)Nagaland (b)Assam (c)Manipur (excluding seven assembly constituencies of Imphal) and (d)parts of Arunachal Pradesh.The Centre revoked it in Meghalaya on April 1, 2018.Tripura too withdrew the AFSPA in 2015.Further,Jammu and Kashmir too has a similar Act.