Ninong Ering, Congress member of Parliament from Arunachal Pradesh, has opposed the extension of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in some parts of the State, saying it was “misused by the Army.”Mr. Ering, who represents Arunachal East in the Lok Sabha, said that in the name of the Act, the Army “harassed and tortured” villagers.On April 1, a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) notification extending the AFSPA for another six months, declared Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts in Arunachal Pradesh and the areas falling within the jurisdiction of eight police stations in districts bordering Assam as ‘disturbed area’ under Section 3 of the Act.‘A peaceful State’“It’s a peaceful State. We didn’t expect the AFSPA to be extended by another six months. This Act has been there in these areas for the past 20 years, what has been the outcome? Army and NSCN beat people. If it was serving any benefit, I would have understood. The Army misuses it and does not do the real work,” Mr. Ering said, highlighting the troubled situation in the region.Mr. Ering claimed he had raised the issue earlier also when the UPA government was in power, saying he had given multiple notices in Parliament to discuss the subject.“The Army comes and tortures the public; they arrest and harass them. You don’t take any action against the insurgents but harass the public instead. No one knows where the funds allocated for these areas are spent. I get several representations — villagers feel the government is betraying them,” he said.He said it was easy to identify outsiders and locals could hand them over to police.In its previous notification issued on October 1, 2017, the MHA had cited “extortion and intimidation” by the cadres of National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) who were “contriving to dominate areas hitherto occupied by NSCN (Khaplang)” as one of the reasons to extend AFSPA.The Army did not respond to an e-mail sent by The Hindu. An Army official said it had strict system in place and was not in involved in any kind of excesses on locals.Reduced areas: RijijuResponding to Mr. Ering’s demand that the AFSPA be revoked, Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said, “The AFSPA has been enforced in Arunachal Pradesh for the last three decades. As the situation is improving, our government has reduced the total area under the AFSPA, and hopefully, it will be reduced more as the situation improves.”As per Section 3 of the AFSPA, it can be invoked in places “where the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary.” AFSPA gives the Army and other central forces deployed in “disturbed areas” the power to kill anyone acting in contravention of law, arrest persons and search any premises without a warrant and provides a cover to forces from prosecution and legal suits without Centre’s sanction.The NDA government had signed a ‘framework agreement’ with the NSCN-IM in September 2015 to find a final solution to the six decades old Naga issue. NSCN-K was banned last year after its alleged involvement in an ambush on an Army convoy in Manipur’s Chandel district where 17 personnel were killed.After decades of violence, NSCN-IM had entered into a ceasefire agreement with India in 1997. The largest group representing the Nagas has demanded a “Greater Nagalim” or a contiguous land for the Nagas spanning Nagaland, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
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