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Lulun Kips asked: Why AFSPA has been imposed in J&K and the Northeast and not in the Maoist-affected areas in central India?

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  • Vivek Chadha replies: The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act or the AFSPA is imposed in areas where armed forces are required to operate in aid to civil authorities. However, for AFSPA to become valid, an area needs to be declared disturbed either by the central or the state government. This is because under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), the army does not have the mandate to carry out operations and the powers to arrest, search premises, etc., are only with the police. Therefore, unless requisitioned and given special powers under AFSPA after an area has been notified as disturbed, the army cannot be deployed for such duties.

    The deployment of the army is based on the appreciation of the government regarding the state of law and order or threat to national security. If it is felt that the local police force is capable of handling the situation on its own, or with support of the central police forces like the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), then there is no requirement for an area to be declared as disturbed and for AFSPA to be promulgated.

    In case of the Northeast and J&K, besides the serious law and order issue, there is also a distinct external influence on local insurgency and terrorism. This gives a serious dimension to the threat. The issue of deploying army has been discussed in the past with respect to the Naxal-affected areas. However, it was felt that there is a need to build the capacities of the central and local police forces in this case, especially given the already stretched responsibilities of the army in J&K and the Northeast. Any further deployment of the army could have adversely impacted its operational efficiency, particularly against external threats. Therefore, keeping in view the need to build capacities of police forces, absence of external dimension, existing responsibilities of the army, a considered decision led to deploying police forces in the Naxal-affected areas.

    Posted on August 29, 2014