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After Proper Investigation, Says Centre On Removing Controversial Law AFSPA

'After Proper Investigation': Centre On Removing Controversial Law AFSPA

Nagaland in recent times saw massive protests against the AFSPA

Shillong:

A law that gives sweeping powers to the military and protects soldiers from legal prosecution would be removed from disturbed areas only after a thorough investigation and observation, the centre has said.

Junior Home Minister Ajay Mishra Teni during a visit to Meghalaya’s capital Shillong yesterday evening spoke on the Armed Forces (Special) Powers Act, or AFSPA, and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, or CAA, which promises citizenship to refugees who came to India before 2014 from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh but not if they are Muslims.

The AFSPA gives immense powers to the military to operate freely anywhere that has been declared a “disturbed area”; no military personnel in an area where AFSPA is in force can be prosecuted without the centre’s sanction.

In recent times, Nagaland has been demanding removal of the law after 14 men were killed in two separate firing incidents by the army in connection with a botched operation by special forces in December last year.

“The centre will gradually remove the Armed Forces (Special) Powers Act after proper investigation and observation,” Mr Mishra told reporters in Shillong.

“Any such law which is against the will of the people will be removed as we are not in favour of keeping such laws. Bur we should ensure peace is maintained in the northeast region and development projects continue unhindered,” he said.

On recent protests an umbrella students’ group demanding withdrawal of the AFSPA and the CAA, the minister said, “The only amendment we have made is for minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. If the minorities of those countries came to India before December 2014, the centre is giving them citizenship rights and with that nobody in this country will lose their rights or citizenship.”

After the botched Nagaland ambush, the state assembly had unanimously resolved to demand a repeal of AFSPA from the northeast, especially the state. A five-member committee was formed under top bureaucrat Vivek Joshi to examine the possibility of withdrawal of AFSPA from Nagaland.

AFSPA has been extended every six months for several years in Nagaland, which has long remained a “disturbed area”. Declaring a place “disturbed area” is the first requirement for imposing AFSPA, a law that has roots in the colonial-era and which was used to crush protests.


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