The UPA Government will convene a meeting of all the stakeholders to discuss the phased removal of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from Jammu & Kashmir and the North-Eastern states.
Disclosing this, Union Home Minister SushilKumar Shinde said a final decision on the issue will be taken only after holding discussions with the state governments. “AFSPA is not only in (Jammu&) Kashmir. It is in (force in) many other places also. We have to consider the opinion of all the stakeholders,” he said.
On whether the Centre is planning to call an all-party meeting on AFSPA, Shinde said the Centre will consult only the state governments concerned. Apart from J&K, AFSPA has also been extended to Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura.
The alleged draconian law grants special powers to the Armed Forces in the disturbed areas, including the mandate for carrying out searches and arrests without warrant against any person, who committed a cognisable offence or is about a commit such crime and suspected to be involved in smuggling of arms and ammunition.
It also provides special powers for Armed Forces personnel to carry out operation against any person, who is acting in contravention of any law or order in the disturbed areas. It also ensures legal protection to the personnel operating in the troubled states thereby ensuring that no prosecution, suit or other legal proceedings are instituted without the Centre’s prior sanction.
Meanwhile, following a thorough review of the law & order situation in the 40 police stations in Tripura, where the special powers act was in force, the Centre had recently decided to restrict its enforcement to just 25 out of the state’s total 70 police stations.