IMPHAL/SHILLONG: In view of the persistent demand from various parties, including the ruling allies, the BJP government in Manipur is likely to propose to the Centre to withdraw the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) from the entire state, officials said on Monday.
Ruling BJP's two vital allies — Naga People's Front (NPF) and National People's Party (NPP) — and the main opposition Congress in Manipur have been demanding to withdraw AFSPA from entire Manipur.
A top Manipur government official said that the state cabinet headed by Chief Minister N. Biren Singh would meet in a day or two to formally adopt a resolution proposing the Central government to withdraw the special act from the entire state.
"Before the cabinet meeting, the state government would take the views of the senior security officials about the possible consequences if the AFSPA is lifted from the state," the official said on condition of anonymity.
Keeping in view the violent activities by militant outfits, the Union Home Ministry in consultation with the state government had imposed AFSPA in Manipur on September 8, 1980.
The erstwhile Congress government led by then Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh had proposed the Centre to withdraw AFSPA from seven of the 60 Assembly constituencies in the state and the Union Home Ministry at that time had withdrawn the special act from the plain areas under the seven Assembly segments.
Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee's working president Keisham Meghachandra has been urging the Chief Minister to take up the matter with the Centre to repeal the AFSPA..
Meghachandra, also an MLA, said on Monday that the Congress government had earlier removed AFSPA from seven Assembly constituencies in Manipur, and if the party returns to power in the ensuing elections, it would propose to withdraw AFSPA from the remaining areas of the state.
According to political pundits, AFSPA is likely to be a top issue in the upcoming Assembly elections in Manipur scheduled early next year.
Meanwhile, NPP President and Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma has been demanding to repeal AFSPA from the entire northeastern region.
"Welcome the move of GOI, Amit Shah ji for approval to set up a panel to review imposition of AFSPA in Nagaland. The panel should examine the whole of Northeast," Sangma had tweeted on Sunday night.
Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said on Sunday that a committee has been formed to look into the demand of withdrawal of AFSPA from Nagaland and the panel would submit its report to the government within 45 days.
The committee was formed after Union Home Minister Amit Shah chaired a meeting in New Delhi on December 23, which was attended by the Nagaland Chief Minister, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, Nagaland Deputy Chief Minister Y. Patton and Naga People's Front (NPF) legislative party leader T.R. Zeliang.
The meeting also discussed the present scenario in Nagaland and the decision about formation of the committee was taken in that meeting.
On December 20, the Nagaland Assembly in its day-long special session had unanimously passed a resolution demanding the Centre to repeal AFSPA from the entire northeast, especifically from Nagaland, to strengthen the ongoing efforts to find a peaceful political settlement to the Naga political issue.
AFSPA, which allows the army and other Central para-military forces to conduct raids, operations, arrest anyone anywhere without prior notice or arrest warrant, is in force in entire Nagaland, Assam, 53 of the 60 Assembly constituencies in Manipur and certain districts of Arunachal Pradesh.
Tripura is the only state in the northeastern region where AFSPA was withdrawn in May 2015 by the then Left Front government led by Manik Sarkar after terror activities were tamed. AFSPA was also lifted from the bordering areas of Meghalaya in 2018. (IANS)