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Home Ministry withdraws AFSPA from Meghalaya, eight police stations in Arunachal Pradesh

NEW DELHI: The Union Home Ministry on Monday in its gazette notification has withdrawn the contentious Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 (AFSPA) from the state of Meghalaya as well as eight police stations in Arunachal Pradesh.

The ministry has issued a statement that AFSPA has been revoked from all parts of Meghalaya and has been reduced from 16 police stations to eight, with effect from March 31, 2018.

Till September 2017, 40 percent of Meghalaya was under AFSPA.

The Congress member of Parliament from Arunachal Pradesh Ninong Ering has been opposing the extension of the AFSPA in some parts of the state, saying it was “misused by the army”. Ering said that in the name of the Act, the army “harassed and tortured” villagers.

AFSPA is now applicable only to 8 police stations in Arunachal, down from 16 police stations in 2017. The Home Ministry has also enhanced the aid under the surrender-cum-rehabilitation policy for militants in the northeast from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 4 lakh. The policy will be applicable from April 1, 2018.

The government also relaxed the restricted area permit and protected area permit for foreigners visiting Manipur, Mizoram, and Nagaland. Restrictions, however, will remain for “countries of concern”, which include Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China.

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act was enacted in 1958 to bring under control what the government of India considered ‘disturbed’ areas.

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