The BJP-led central government continues to see sister states Nagaland and Manipur as “disturbed areas” as the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) has been extended in the two states on Wednesday. “The central government believes that the entire state of Nagaland is in a disturbed and dangerous condition. Therefore, the use of armed forces in aid of civil power is necessary,” the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a notification.
AFSPA in Nagaland is extended for six more months. Meanwhile, except for municipal areas of Imphal, the Manipur government has extended the ‘disturbed area’ tag for the entire state of Manipur. In a Home Department-issued a notification, Manipur Governor Najma Heptulla has given her approval to extend the tag for one more year.
“In exercise of the power conferred by Section 3 of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1985 as amended time to time, the Governor of Manipur hereby accords ex-post facto approval declared the entire state excluding Imphal Municipal areas with retrospective effect from December 1,” the notification read.
As per the notification, the Governor extended the status, stating that the state is still reeling from violence carried out by insurgent or extremist groups. Just like Nagaland, the Governor felt it was necessary to have armed forces deployed to help the administration ensure order and peace in the state.
According to several reports, the “Disturbed Area” status allows the application of the controversial AFSPA, which gives complete powers to security forces deployed in Manipur and Nagaland. In the former, this Act has been in force since 1980 and has been extended from time to time. However, in Nagaland, the Act has been in force for nearly 60 years.
The reason for Imphal being barred from the AFSPA is because the Act was lifted in seven assembly constituencies in the area. In 2004, following the alleged rape of Thangjam Manorama, while she was in Assam Rifles custody, protests broke out in the region against the Act. These protests prompted Congress leader and former Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh to lift the Act in Imphal.