The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has been removed entirely from Meghalaya and reduced it to eight police stations in Arunachal Pradesh from the previous 16. According to reports, till September 2017, about 40% of Meghalaya was under AFSPA and the Ministry of Home Affairs after consulting with the state government has decided to remove it completely. The act was completely withdrawn from Meghalaya with effect from April 1, 2018.
The MHA statement added that there was a 37% decline in the number of insurgency incidents in 2017 in the North Eastern states. It further added that there was a 30% decline in the number of casualties in security forces and 23% reduction in civilian deaths since 2017. In another recent announcement, the government has enhanced the surrender cum rehabilitation assistance for militants from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 4 lakhs.
The government has also relaxed the norms of the Restricted Area Permit and the Protected Area Permit (PAP) for foreign tourists visiting the North Eastern states of Arunachal Pradesh Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland. This move was finalised to boost tourism in these areas. Foreign tourists need PAP to visit certain marked areas in these states. However, citizens from ‘countries of concern’, that is Afganistan, Pakistan and China will still face restrictions to tour in these areas.
According to reports, the AFSPA was further extended to another six months in the three easternmost districts of Arunachal Pradesh. These districts are Tirap, Longding and Changlang and they all share a border with Myanmar. The eight police station areas which still have AFSPA are located in the seven districts bordering on Assam.
Among other states in the NE, AFSPA was removed from Tripura in 2015 and for the last one year, it is being gradually removed in the entire region.
The AFSPA is a law that gives the army the power to kill, arrest, and search within the area without a warrant and protects the Army personnel from prosecution and lawsuits without the central government’s sanction.