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A progressive step: On setting of panel for AFSPA by Nagaland

Formation of a panel to look into withdrawal of AFSPA from Nagaland is a welcome move

People in the Northeast associate the series of civilian killings in the region over a number of years with the Act being in effect. The Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee set up by the previous UPA-led government at the Centre in 2005 had recommended the repeal of the Act calling it “highly undesirable” and that it created an impression that civilians in the Northeast were being targeted for hostile treatment. But the Act has remained in place because of the resolute opposition to its repeal by the Army. The panel can take recourse to studying precedents — Tripura revoked the Act in May 2015 after noticing an improvement on the ground in the State while Meghalaya did the same on April 1, 2018. Both States did so after the Act was in force for decades. A clear-cut understanding on the definition and the extent of “disturbed areas” in Nagaland following discussions among the State, the MHA and armed forces’ representatives will go a long way in working towards a rethink on the Act’s relevance in the entire region.

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