‘A still moment which has no colour, no life and possibly no breath in it’ is how human rights activists describe the already tense situation of a disturbed state, and it’s claims on the armed forces for brutality. Well, before we try to pull the pin of a heated grenade shaped argument, let us first know what is AFSPA.
The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act or better known as AFSPA is an act which enables the Armed Forces of Indian Subcontinent to be deployed in a state which has been declared disturbed. The act saw it’s genesis in 1958 and gave both the state and the central government, the authority to declare the state of being disturbed. This disturbance can be caused by racial differences or clashes, conflicts between different religious groups, terrorist activities and much more. The Armed Forces are thus empowered to maintain the law in the state and is authorised to conduct searches, raids, neutralisation of threats if the need be, and aid the civilians.
Once declared a disturbed state, the region has to maintain the status quo for at least 3 months.
In the present scenario, the AFSPA has been declared in Assam. Due to recent clashes and deaths of civilians, militants and security personnel, for the first time the state government itself has invoked the AFSPA. The background revolving around this state hasn’t been a clean one with up to 16 cases of clashes between the months May and July 2017, death toll has spiked up and is the sole reason behind the presence of the armed forces.
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The state of Assam has been declared disturbed for the past 27 years ever since the inception of the AFSPA in 1990, right after ethnic insurgencies of the 1980s. These clashes increased when the ULFA (United Liberation Front of Asom) used violent methods to gain power. Since then, the threat keeps looming over the Assam.
While many consider the AFSPA to be a rude and brutal act that enables the armed forces to do anything and everything they like, it gets conflicted by the fact that hadn’t the AFSPA been enacted, several states would’ve torn themselves apart during the clashes. As of now the AFSPA has been enforced in the following states:-
Meghalaya and Jammu and Kashmir