New Delhi(PTI): The AFSPA has been removed completely from Meghalaya and its area of operation in Arunachal Pradesh has been restricted to eight police stations bordering Assam and three districts neighbouring Myanmar, officials said today.
The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, which empowers security forces to conduct operations, arrest anyone anywhere without prior notice, has been removed from all areas of Meghalaya from March 31.
The decision has been taken due to a significant improvement of security situation in the state, a Home Ministry official said.
In Arunachal Pradesh, areas under the controversial act have been reduced from 16 police stations areas bordering Assam to eight police stations besides Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts, the official said.
There have been demands from various organisations in the north-east as well as in Jammu and Kashmir for repealing the act, which, they say, gives sweeping powers to the security forces to act against civilians .
The AFSPA has been in force in Nagaland for several decades and in Assam from early 1990s.
It was not withdrawn in Nagaland even after a framework agreement was signed on August 3, 2015 by Naga insurgent group NSCN-IM general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah and government interlocutor R N Ravi in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Another official said there has been a substantial improvement in security situation in the north-eastern states over the last four years.
The year 2017 recorded the lowest insurgency incidents and casualties among civilians and security forces during the last two decades since 1997.
While insurgency has been wiped out from Tripura and Mizoram, there has been a marked improvement in security situation in Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Manipur, the official said.
In Assam, sustained counter-insurgency operations against NDFB (S) have resulted in killing of 63 cadres and the arrest of 1,052 cadres/linkmen besides recovery of huge arms and ammunition between December 2014 and March this year.
Across the north-east, there has been a huge reduction of 96 per cent in casualties among the security forces from 289 in 1997 to 12 in 2017. Civilian casualties also dropped by 96 per cent from 907 in the year 2000 to 37 last year, the official added.
Insurgency incidents during the same period reduced by 85 per cent from 1963 to 308. So far as kidnapping and abductions are concerned, there has been a 40 per cent drop from 168 incidents in 2016 to 102 last year.