In a landmark decision that will resonate with other states that have implemented the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Tripura has withdrawn AFSPA from the entire Left-ruled state as terrorism has started to ebb. The draconian law, enforced in the state 18 years ago when terrorism was at its peak, gives sweeping powers and judicial immunity to security forces.
Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, who is also the state Home Minister, said: "In view of the significant taming of terrorism in Tripura, the council of ministers today (Wednesday) decided to withdraw the AFSPA from the entire state."
My plea to repeal #AFSPA heard in Tripura. AFSPA withdrawn. Victory for sanity and humanity.— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) May 28, 2015
There are several compelling reasons why the Tripura government decided to remove AFSPA when some other states have not.
- In the past five years, Tripura has seen a rapid decline in militancy with hundreds of militants surrendering and joining the mainstream, reported Deccan Herald.
- Sarkar told IANS that the security forces recently exhaustively reviewed the law and order situation in the state and decided that the security forces would keep a watchful eye on the situation in Tripura.
- When AFSPA was first imposed in Tripura, there were only 42 police stations in the state, and only two-thirds of them were included under this act. Gradually the number increased to 72, and the AFSPA was in force in 40. But now, as the situation in the state has improved, the Tripura government in 2013 reduced the operational areas of the AFSPA to 30 police stations. The total number of police stations in Tripura is now 74.
- The ruling Left Front, which has been in power in Tripura since 1993, has been contemplating the withdrawal of the law and had the support from opposition parties such as the Congress and BJP, reported the Deccan Herald.
- IANS reported that the State government would allow the movement of traffic until midnight instead of 10 PM, on the Assam-Agartala National Highway (NH 44) that links the land-locked state to the rest of the country.
- Rights groups have been vocal against the misuse of the law by the armed forces against innocent civilians, according to Deccan Herald. There is also a longstanding resentment against the AFSPA in Jammu and Kashmir.
- According to Firstpost, the fact that in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Tripura recorded 84 per cent voter turnout -- one of the highest in the country -- is a strong evidence of the decline of militancy in the state.
(With inputs from the agencies)