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AFSPA: Full Form, Provisions and Criticisms

AFSPA Full Form

AFSPA stands for Armed Forces Special Power Act. This act was passed by the Parliament of India in 1958, which grants special powers to the Armed Forces to keep up with the service of public order in the “Disturbed areas”. When an area is declared under disturbed areas then the area has to maintain the status quo for a minimum of 6 months. On 11th September 1958, the Disturbed areas (Special courts) act was enacted in the Naga Hills, Assam (then). After this, it followed all the seven sister states in India. After this, the other act was enacted in Punjab and Chandigarh, however, it was withdrawn in 1997. In 1990, this act was also enacted in Jammu and Kashmir and has been in force since then.

In recent years, AFSPA has been removed from several areas of three north-eastern states, Nagaland, Manipur, and Assam. The government defines this step by saying that it is a result of the improved security situation and fast-tracked development due to the consistency in efforts and several agreements to end insurgency and bring lasting peace to the Northeast.

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What is the purpose of AFSPA?

The Armed Forces Special Power Act enables the Armed Forces, army, state, and Central police forces, to search and destroy houses or property that is expected to be used by the insurgents in the areas which are declared as the Disturbed areas by the government. It also gives them the power to shoot and kill if the case becomes sensitive. AFSPA is enacted only when there is a case of military or insurgency takes place and the territorial integrity of India is at high risk. The act allows the Armed Forces to arrest any person without any warrant, based on reasonable suspicion, who has committed or is even about to commit a perceptible offense. When the act is enabled in an area, the armed forces are legally immune which means there will be no legal actions against them for their actions in the Disturbed areas.

Provisions of AFSPA

  1. The Governor of a state and the central government of India have the power to declare any part or full of any state as a disturbed area. This can only be implemented when in their opinion, it has become necessary to enact AFSPA to disrupt the terrorist activities in any such areas which can harm the sovereignty and integrity of India.
  2. As per the Disturbed Areas Act of 1976, when a region is declared as a disturbed area then the state has to maintain the status quo for a minimum of 6 months.
  3. Under section (3) of AFSPA, if the governor of a state issues an official notification in The Gazette of India then the central government has the authority to send Armed Forces to the disturbed areas which can assist the civilian authority.
  4. Under section (4) of AFSPA, the armed forces get special powers to shoot and kill any individual who becomes the source of violation of law or is suspected to be the source of violation of the law. This provision restricts the gathering of more than five people, carrying of weapons, etc.
  5. Without any warrant, any person who is suspected or found to be violating the law can be arrested.

AFSPA: Criticisms

  1. Violation of Human rights, basic human rights are violated. There are several cases against the employees of the armed forces regarding Exploitation of the human rights of innocent people.
  2. Misuse of special powers granted to the armed forces by the government.
  3. Violation of fundamental rights
  4. Legal immunity of the armed forces, this gives them the right to do anything and not be punished by the government. There is no legal action against them.

FAQs related to AFSPA

1. What does AFSPA mean?
Ans. AFSPA stands for Armed Forces Special Power Act (Assam and Manipur), this act was passed on 11th September 1958. The act grants special powers in the Disturbed areas to the Armed Forces.

2. What is the territorial scope of AFSPA?
Ans. The territorial scope of AFSPA has expanded to five states in the northeast which include Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Meghalaya, and Arunachal Pradesh.

3. What is the history of AFSPA?
Ans. The AFSPA (Assam and Manipur) was enacted to deal with the Naga insurgency in the Assam region.

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