Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA)

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  • Continuance of Declaration on Disturbed Area in Nagaland is a Decision based on Perception without Foresight

    The declaration of the Disturbed Area provision is fundamentally at odds with the mutually accommodative integration endeavour of the Nagas with the Indian Union as envisioned in the 2015 framework agreement.

    January 16, 2018

    Extension of the Disturbed Areas Act in Nagaland

    Extension of the Disturbed Areas Act in Nagaland

    Application of AFSPA and DAA provisions to the eastern districts of Nagaland and to districts or select areas bordering Arunachal Pradesh and the Myanmar frontier would have sent an appropriate message to shore up public confidence for an overall settlement of the Naga issue.

    July 25, 2016

    Meghalaya High Court Calls for Invoking Armed Forces Special Powers Act in Garo Hills

    Meghalaya High Court Calls for Invoking Armed Forces Special Powers Act in Garo Hills

    The Meghalaya High Court’s order directing the central government to consider invoking AFSPA in the Garo Hills is more like an advisory premised on a number of High Court and Supreme Court judgments.

    November 17, 2015

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

    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.

    Is It Time to Withdraw the Army from Kashmir?

    2013 witnessed the highest ceasefire violations in eight years, accompanied by a sharp increase in security force casualties. Some sections within the media and intelligentsia have misunderstood the army’s presence in disturbed areas as a reflection of its vested interests. It is time that the reality of its role and responsibility are better understood.

    December 13, 2013

    Kunal Brahma: Why AFSPA is considered a necessity by armed forces?

    Reply: Kindly refer to the following IDSA publications on the issue:

    Vivek Chadha (ed.), “Armed Forces Special Powers Act: The Debate”IDSA Monograph Series No. 7, 2012 (free download)
    Ali Ahmed, “Reconciling AFSPA with the Legal Spheres”Journal of Defence Studies, 5 (2), April 2011 (free download) 
    K.C. Dixit, “Revoking AFSPA Blown Out of Proportion”, Journal of Defence Studies, 4 (4), October 2010 (free download)
    K. C. Dixit, “Calling the Army for Peace Restoration”, IDSA Comment, August 23, 2010. 
    Harinder Singh, AFSPA: A Soldier’s Perspective”IDSA Comment, July 06, 2010.

    Also, refer to earlier replies by Ali Ahmed and K.C. Dixit on a similar/related query posted in this section, at and

    Views expressed are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the IDSA or the Government of India.

    Pranathi Reddy asked: Can the repeal of the AFSPA in J&K revive peace?

    Reply: Kindly refer to the earlier replies by Ali Ahmed and K.C. Dixit on a similar/related query posted in this section, at and

    Also, refer to the following IDSA publications on the issue:

    Vivek Chadha (ed.), “Armed Forces Special Powers Act: The Debate”, IDSA Monograph Series No. 7, 2012 (free download)
    Ali Ahmed, “Reconciling AFSPA with the Legal Spheres”, Journal of Defence Studies, 5 (2), April 2011 (free download)
    K.C. Dixit, “Revoking AFSPA Blown Out of Proportion”, Journal of Defence Studies, 4 (4), October 2010 (free download)
    K. C. Dixit, “Calling the Army for Peace Restoration”, IDSA Comment, August 23, 2010.
    Harinder Singh, AFSPA: A Soldier’s Perspective, IDSA Comment, July 06, 2010.

    Views expressed are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the IDSA or the Government of India.

    Armed Forces Special Powers Act: The Debate

    Armed Forces Special Powers Act: The Debate

    The debate over the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), has been raging within affected states, armed forces, central and state police organisations, human rights groups, legal fraternity and the central leadership. There have been different views and opinions voiced based on strongly held beliefs. This monograph attempts to present some of these diverse views, with the aim of capturing the ongoing debate.


    Parag Bisht asked: What is the solution to the insurgency problem in Manipur? Should AFSPA be repealed?

    Vivek Chadha replies: It is very difficult to suggest a solution to a problem as complex as prevailing in Manipur. The state is captive to a number of unfortunate and complex competing realities which probably makes it the most difficult insurgency to resolve. Manipur has a diverse ethnic population with Meitis controlling the Valley, Nagas on the surrounding hills and Kukis interspersed in between. There are a number of other smaller tribal groups as well. First, there are competing interests between the Nagas and Meitis. The demand for Nagalim or Greater Nagaland includes the Naga inhabited areas of Manipur. In fact, Muivah, the leader of the most powerful Naga insurgent group NSCN (IM), belongs to Manipur. On the other hand, the Meitis want to preserve what has been a single geographic entity for centuries. They have also traditionally controlled both the political and economic power in the region. However, this is getting threatened as a result of different ethnic loyalties and affiliations. Similarly Kukis also seek their rights in the fragmented society. Even amongst the Meitis there are different groups supporting insurgent groups which further their interests. The insurgent groups are also affiliated with political parties which makes it a marriage of convenience between the gun and political power as well as funding. Thus there are vested interests in keeping the insurgency going. Insurgency is also increasingly seen as a profitable business and insurgencies have in reality morphed into criminal activity.

    A solution to the problem lies in the people of the state rejecting this fragmented political setup and collectively deciding to fight for a better life than being given by their leaders. While the blame generally tends to be placed on the Central Government for all ills of the state, in reality the mismanagement and corruption within is eating away the local system. Second, people will have to rise above their petty local politics and think of their state and country to gain from the progress being made. After all industry and tourism can only flourish through peace. Third, given the excellent education levels, more people should join the national mainstream through central jobs, employment in the private sector and bring a fresh perspective to the area.

    AFSPA is more a perceptional problem rather than a legal one. If one was to look beyond a few cases of alleged human rights violations, it will be proved that it is not the law which is the reason for excesses. The local police in my experience is more high handed in their dealing than the army. However, given the prevailing perceptions, there is a need to ensure that greater transparency is brought in. There should also be improvement in the law to include the Do's and Dont's sanctioned by the Supreme Court. Some provisions can be relooked to make the law more in touch with prevailing realities.

    It should also be borne in mind that the army can only operate if an area is declared disturbed. The law is redundant in the absence of this notification. And it is up to the government to decide whether an area is disturbed or not. Once that is done, the army has no choice but to come to the aid of civil authorities.

    Hans Raj Singh asked: Why the people of Manipur want AFSPA to be repealed? Which section of AFSPA does Irom Sharmila wants to be repealed?

    Namrata Goswami replies: The people of Manipur want the AFSPA repealed because they view it as repressive law which denies them their fundamental rights. According to the AFSPA, a person can be arrested without warrant on mere suspicion, without evidence, that he or she is supporting insurgencies. This has created a militarized political space, which curtails civil liberties, in their viewpoint.

    I do not think Irom Sharmila is fasting for the repeal of one particular section of the AFSPA. She wants the act in its entirety to be repealed.