Insurgency down in Assam, Manipur, Nagaland after AFSPA withdrawal

Insurgency related incidents in Assam, Manipur and Nagaland have declined but extortion and movement of armed cadre remain a challenge for security forces, nearly two months after withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (Afspa) from certain areas of the three states. The Indian Army and Assam Rifles have been redeployed from many areas where the states have deployed their counter-insurgency forces.

Afspa empowers security forces to conduct operations and arrest anyone without warrant besides giving the forces immunity from arrest and prosecution. The controversial law was withdrawn from 23 districts in Assam and partially from seven districts in Nagaland, six districts in Manipur, and one district in Assam on April 1. Assam reported killings of 3 extremists and a civilian thereafter, compared to 10 militants and a civilian last year, according to Assam Police.

Special DGP (Law and Order), GP Singh told ET, “violence in Bodoland area was an attempt by some members of the surrendered National Liberation Front of Bodoland (NLFB) to restart the militant organisation. There is no upsurge in violence. We are confident of reaching a situation where Afspa would be removed from the remaining 40% of Assam in the next couple of years.” The incidents of encounter took place soon after withdrawal of Afspa in April where two former NLFB members were killed in exchange of fire in Chirang district.

The disturbed area notification has been in force in Assam since 1990. In 2021, 21 incidents of violence were reported in Assam in which 13 extremists were killed, according to home ministry data. In Nagaland and Manipur, the situation has been largely peaceful though extortion by armed groups is a cause of concern. DGP Nagaland T John Longkumer told ET that there were no incidents of violence so far in 15 police stations where Afspa has been diluted. “We have taken over security of the area to maintain ceasefire ground rules due to the presence of designated camps of surrendered militants. We have also deployed special operations groups, namely Nagaland Armed Police for counter-insurgency operations.”

Afspa has been in force in Nagaland from 1995. After a botched up Army operation in December last year, when 14 innocent civilians were killed, the Centre has set up a committee to examine Afspa removal. Longkumer said that Assam Rifles have been moved out from many parts but not fully. The Nagaland government too held parleys with all stakeholders and urged them to maintain peace or face reimposition of Afspa. Assam Rifles did not respond to an email query.

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