The Congress and Naga People’s Front, an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Manipur, have demanded that the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act be completely withdrawn from the North East region, PTI reported on Friday.

On Thursday, Home Minister Amit Shah had annouced the Union government’s decision to reduce the number of areas that fall under the ambit of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, or AFSPA, in Nagaland, Assam and Manipur. The decision came into effect on Friday.

The Act gives Army personnel in “disturbed areas” sweeping powers to search, arrest, and open fire if they deem it necessary for “the maintenance of public order”. Besides these three states, AFSPA is also enforced in three districts of Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.

On Friday, the Act was revoked from 15 police station jurisdictions in six of the 16 districts of Manipur, according to the government. Similarly in Nagaland, 15 police station jurisdictions in seven out of 15 districts are no longer classified as “disturbed areas”.

Twenty-three districts in Assam have also been completely removed from the purview of the Act, while it has been partially removed in another district.

On Friday, Naga People’s Front state General Secretary Honreikhui Kashung told PTI that the party was not happy with the partial rollback of the Act.

“Our movement is for withdrawal of AFSPA from the entire North East region and not just from specific areas,” he said.

The Naga People’s Front is a part of the ruling coalition in Nagaland where it is the largest party with 25 MLAs. The party is also present in Arunachal Pradesh.

Meanwhile, Congress spokesperson Devbrata Khumanthem told PTI that the partial rollback was a welcome beginning, but said that the party is demanding the removal of the Act from the entire Manipur.

He asked why the Centre had limited the withdrawal of the Act to specific areas when the BJP government has been claiming that law and order have improved in the whole state in the last five years.

The chief ministers of Assam, Nagaland and Manipur had welcomed the Union government’s decision.

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Demands for repeal

In recent months, chief ministers and various rights bodies in the North East have demanded the removal of AFSPA from their states. The demand gained prominence after the killing of 14 civilians by security forces in Nagaland’s Mon district in December.

On December 20, the Nagaland Assembly had unanimously passed a resolution urging the Centre to withdraw AFSPA from the North East region, especially from Nagaland. However, on December 30, the Act was extended in the state for six months.

Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh had also said on January 23 that he and the residents of the state wanted the Act to be withdrawn. He had said that “as a Manipuri and as chief minister of Manipur”, he wanted that the law be repealed from the state.

On March 1, the Assam government had declared the entire state as a “disturbed area” after reviewing the law and order situation in the preceding six months.