The Manipur government on Monday extended the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, or AFSPA, in the state till December 1 amid demands for the controversial law to be repealed in the North East region.
Special Secretary (Home) H Gyan Prakash, in an order, said that Governor La Ganesan has declared Manipur, except for the Imphal municipal jurisdiction, as a “disturbed area” under the provisions of the Act.
AFSPA gives Army personnel sweeping powers to search, arrest, and to open fire if they deem it necessary for “the maintenance of public order”. In the North East, the law is currently in force in Assam, Nagaland and three districts of Arunachal Pradesh.
Several members of civil society and tribal bodies in Nagaland have been demanding that the Act be repealed after 14 civilians were killed by members of security forces in the state’s Mon district in December. Some of them were local coal miners who were apparently mistaken for insurgents.
However, on December 30, the Centre extended AFSPA in Nagaland for six months after calling it a state in a “disturbed, dangerous condition”. The decision was announced despite the Nagaland Assembly unanimously passing a resolution urging the government to withdraw the law from the North East region.
On Monday, the Manipur government said that members of armed forces could help the civic authorities as the state was disturbed by “violent activities of various extremists/insurgent groups”.
Manipur has seen several violent incidents since November.
On Sunday, an aide of a Bharatiya Janata Party leader and a rifleman of the Indian Reserve Battalion were shot dead by unidentified assailants in Samurou town in Manipur’s Imphal West district.
The police said that no arrests have yet been made in the case. He added that the assailants could not be identified as the attack took place at night.
It has not yet been determined if members of any insurgent group were involved in these killings.
In another instance, seven persons, including an Indian Army Colonel, his wife and son, were killed in Manipur’s Churachandpur district on November 13 after militants ambushed a convoy of the Assam Rifles.
The 10 insurgents who were allegedly involved in the attack are members of the People’s Liberation Army of Manipur and the Manipur Naga People’s Front.