REDUCING ARMED FORCES SPECIAL POWERS ACT IS A BOON OR BANE?
Author: Lavanya KS, IV year of B.A.,LL.B. from Chennai Dr. Ambedkar Government Law College, Pudupakkam
The acts of parliament grant special powers to Indian armed forces, state police forces, and paramilitary forces. In those areas declared as disturbed areas in that place, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act provision can be extended which gives special power and immunity to all security forces. Powers enjoyed by the Indian army, state, and central police forces gave the power to shoot, kill, search houses, Destroy any property, and even arrest persons without a warrant. All these actions provide security forces with legal immunity and are given enormous powers by the act. While the Government of India and its security forces argued its needed legislation to tackle military or insurgency in India's Conflict Zones There was also criticism of the law. It alleged that security forces often misused these special powers to commit gross violence against human rights in conflict zones such as J&K, Northeast India, and the state of Punjab. According to these allegations, Indian security forces carried out fake encounters, rapes & Molestation, Torture & abduction. While covering up these human rights violations special powers and legal immunity were granted under AFSPA.
KEYWORDS:- AFSPA, draconian law, Nagaland, Naga Insurgency, reduce AFSPA in three regions.
Those who Oppose AFSPA can even refer to a Draconian law (which has no place in Constitution Democracy). This controversial nature of AFSPA traces back to its Colonial Origin. This law was used by the British to counter the Quit India Movement & post Independence. India implemented the same law to tackle the Naga insurgency that broke out in the 1950s. Post-independence, AFSPA was introduced in 1958 to tackle the Naga insurgency in the northeast region. Later it extended to several northeast states such as Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, and Meghalaya. In the 1980s the Khalistan movement broke out in Punjab so AFSPA also extended here as well. In 1987 Jammu and Kashmir insurgency broke out so AFSPA provision extended to J&J as well. But today AFSPA provision was removed in Punjab, Tripura, Meghalaya, and Mizoram because of declining insurgency it was revoked AFSPA. It continues to operate in the above states As sam, Jammu and Kashmir, Man, your, and Nagaland. Several strong observations were made against AFSPA by the supreme court, National Human Rights Commission, Second Administrative Reforms Committee as well as several committees such as the BP Jeevan Reddy committee, and Santosh Hegde Committee. Justice Verma Committee was constituted after Nirbaya Gang Rape Case. It had noted that the draconian law of AFSPA leads to a gross violation of Human rights. Conflict zones include fake encounters, custodial torture, rape, and molestation as a result law attracts a lot of controversies.
CEASE AFSPA IS A NECESSARY EVIL!
The government of India and security forces feels that law like AFSPA is needed in conflict zones as security forces operate in hostile conditions and they do seek legal immunity to allow them to function freely without fear of being targeted by false accusations. Now the killing of civilians by the army is regulated in this debate against AFSPA. To a strong call from civil society, human rights activists as well as local people from the northeast for the repeal of a controversial law which has given tremendous power to security forces.
In the Mon district of Nagaland para, special forces in the army which deployed in the region for counter-insurgency operation along with a unit of Assam rifles to target Naga insurgents have been deployed in the northeast, not just as a border guarding force with Myanmar. It was also deployed in counter-insurgency and was placed under the operational command of the Indian army. Two security forces jointly conduct joint security operations to target insurgents in the region and such one planned operation mistakenly killed several innocent civilians.
As per the report, the army received intelligence that a group of Naga insurgents moving into the Mon district while targeting them have mistakenly opened fire at a truck and six workers in a coal mine are killed. Following the killing of civilians, violence broke out in the region. People from nearby villages target cannons or rifles of the Indian army. During this violence, nine more civilians were killed by security forces and even soldiers lost their lives.
So killing 15 civilians by security forces led to an outburst of anger in Nagaland. The state government and the Indian army have already ordered their investigation into this failed security operation.
Even the union home minister angrily promises to investigate by setting up a high-level special investigation team. It led to a renewal of calls to repeal the AFSPA which gave enormous power to the Indian army and questioned the Naga insurgency. Even as a rifle counter-insurgency duties in the northeast. For several decades alleged special powers granted to security forces under AFSPA led to the gross human right violation. There is a strong demand to repeal AFSPA. This demand read the latest incident in Nagaland.
It traces back its origin pre-independence 1947, during British rule they found out warfighting skills in naga tribes. They recruited them during the first world war which was trained by the British and fought for them to gain political exposure after fighting in different parts of the world. So these naga soldiers formed the first naga political union known as the naga can club in 1918. This naga raised demand with British naga-inhabited areas (India and Burma) kept separate from India and sought independence in the Naga area. Members of the naga club raised this political demand to consider naga to have a different culture from India.
The Naga club met the Simon commission in 1928 and raised the demand for a separate nation for the Nagas. Later the second world war broke out again. The British used them to fight against them and nagas became more political. Some Naga leaders established Naga National Council, 1in 946. To take forward nationalist demands of nagas As India moves towards independence again Naga National Council asks for a separate nation for nagas.
To satisfy their demand, the British government worked out the Akbar Hydari agreement in June 1947. Through this, the British made concessions of political and constitutional autonomy for Naga inhabited areas set to be included in part of independent India. This agreement was accepted by dew only and many rejected this. Even before India became independent, the Naga national council declared unilateral independence from India, in 1947. After India gained independence and the Naga national council took violent insurgency against India to liberate Naga inhabited areas in India, Myanmar established greater Nagaland or Naga limb.
GOAL TO UNITE THEM
The goal of the Naga insurgency is to unite all Naga inhabited areas not just in Nagaland but also in Naga areas found in Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, and Myanmar the violent insurgency broke out in the northeast. To tackle the Naga insurgency India deployed security forces and enacted AFSPA, 1958 which gave special powers to the Indian army and security forces.
When the Naga insurgency broke out Nagaland was not a separate state it was still part of Assam. When AFSPA was introduced to tackle naga insurgency it essentially implemented other than stateAssamssam to cover naga insurgency affected regions.
Later AFSPA extended to other northeast states when another insurgency broke out. The first northeast insurgency was the Naga insurgency. As a result of security, operations carried out by the Indian Army under special powers of AFSPA India manage to weaken the Naga insurgency to an extent and try to use the opportunity to work out a peaceful solution through negotiation.
FULFILL POLITICAL ASPIRATION
To fulfill the political aspiration of naga India established Nagaland as a separate state and statehood were guaranteed in 1963. But this step by India failed to satisfy the Naga insurgency and continue for a few more years. By this time, the Naga insurgency was led by Naga National Council to establish a strong base in Myanmar and East Pakistan.
1971 East Pakistan fell and India helped in the liberation of Bangladesh. Naga insurgency lost key bases leading to weakening. India again tried to negotiate politically and India worked out the Shillong Accord 1975 with Naga national council. Through the Shillong accord, the government of India again made political concessions to give more autonomy to the Naga region. To bring the Naga insurgency to a peaceful resolution.
Just like the Akbar Hydari Agreement, the Shillong Accord is a failure. Few leaders accepted the accord and most went on to establish the national socialist council Nagaland in 1980. Its threat to India and managed to establish a haven in Myanmar and Bangladesh. Later in 1988, a group of the national socialist council of Nagaland split up due to ideological and different national socialist councils in Nagaland.
India achieved a breakthrough in 2009 when friendly relations with Bangladesh headed by the prime minister Sheik Hassina under the party Awami league very close to India cracked various northeast insurgents safe in Bangladesh.
NAGA PEACE PROGRESS
2015 framework agreement on Naga peace process signed between the government of India and National socialist council of Nagaland Isak Muivah faction to begin negotiation between Naga peace accord. However, the Khaplang faction is now against India by establishing a haven in Myanmar with the support of China.
Also, negotiate with naga groups to lead this negotiation. Government appoints former Intelligence Bureau officer R.N.Ravi special interlocutor of government and even appoint as governor of Nagaland. He had the experience to deal with naga insurgency and he was leading the peace process on behalf of the government of India.
Between 2015 and 2020 several rounds of talks took place between the governor of Nagaland and the leaders of the national socialist council of Nagaland Isak much and several other groups of Naga groups and political outfits.
PROBLEMS WITH GOVERNMENT
The last one and half years have deadened due to differences between R.N.Ravi and other naga groups. Peace talk failed and to go forward the government of India funds the national socialist council for Nagaland Isak much demand to be unacceptable. They demand a separate flag and a separate Constitution within the overall ambit of the constitution of India while the Indian government gives more autonomy and special status it is unwilling to accept this demand.
Ravi alleged that isak continued its violence and extortion. Naga outfits demand the government of India remove Ravi as an interlocutor. A few months ago he stepped down as interlocutor and was appointed as Governor of Tamil Nadu. Later the Central Government appointed retired IB officer A.K.Mishra as the new interlocutor. Despite these changes, peace talks did not make any changes due to unacceptable demands by naga outfits.
The Union home affairs ministry has announced AFSPA law was reduced from three states to the northeast part of India. It gives powers to the army, state,e, and central police forces to tackle insurgency in disturbed areas. It has given the power to forces to search houses and destroy any property likely to be used by insurgents declared to be disturbed areas of insurgency by the union home affairs ministry. This law led to a lot of human rights violations and illegal killings in the past in multiple states. The recent one is in Nagaland Mon district that's why this law faces a lot of opposition in most states of the northeast part of India. This law gives security forces legal immunity from their actions in the disturbed areas which have led to all these protests.
As per notification given by the union home affairs ministry, they said AFSPA was removed from 15 police station areas in seven districts of Nagaland, 15 police station areas in 6 districts of Manipur, 23 districts entirely and one district partially in Assam. So in three states, AFSPA is being partially withdrawn in Nagaland, Assam, and Manipur.
The Union home minister Amit Shah said that the withdrawal of AFSPA is an indication that security situations are fast and improving in the northeast part of the country. Government peace efforts are bringing good results. It might come as a surprise for some people because nothing happened in the last few days. The most recent related to AFSPA is one in Nagaland Mon district in December 2021.
When in an army operation six civilians and residents attacked the army installation led to multiple losses of lives. After the Nagaland state assembly passed a resolution for repeal of AFSPA. Such resolutions are not binding on the union government. They decide on a disturbed area for AFSPA. Where AFSPA has been withdrawn in Nagaland and still imposed in Mon district, the district which killed civilians is still under AFSPA and part of disturbed areas.
In 2015, the government finally started to remove AFSPA in major parts of the northeast part of the region. They were removed in Tripura and Meghalaya and partially from Arunachal Pradesh.
Reducing conflicts in the northeast region. The central government has signed multiple agreements in the past few years in the northeast specifically to bring peace to the region.
Bodo accord 2030
Karbi Anglong 2021 in Assam
National Liberation Front of Tripura agreement 2019 brings militants into the mainstream of Tripura.
Bru-Reang refugee agreement 2020 to the resettlement of these refugees in the state of Tripura.
Recently, the chief minister of Assam and Meghalaya signed an agreement to resolve the outstanding disputes regarding boundaries between Assam and Meghalaya. Withdrawal of AFSPA in the northeast just seems to be a step in the same progression as the government of India has taken in the past few years. The first committee set up by the central government suggested repeal of AFSPA Jeevan Reddy Committee 2004 was set up by the UPA government but its recommendations were not accepted by the government.
Improved security situation:- 2021- 74% lesser incidence of militancy in the northeast compared to 2014. Even the death of our security personnel has fallen considerably. Fallen by 60% deaths of civilians 84%. All things considered, the union home affairs ministry thought this is a perfect time to repeal AFSPA and bring back normalcy to these parts of northeast India.
" THERE ARE FAR BETTER THINGS AHEAD THAN WE EVER BEHIND"