There has been considerable improvement in the internal security profile of the North East over the years. This is the outcome of a number of factors including a comprehensive approach to manage multiple militancy in the region – political including negotiations with the militant groups, cease fire agreements, amelioration through judicial and constitutional injunctions, development, nationalist mainstreaming and economic growth under gridded by an integrated security umbrella.
As a result, Disturbed Areas have been greatly reduced thus correspondingly revoking of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act from substantial zones.
A number of accords have led to meeting the aspirations of the multiple communities in the region. While a Naga accord with the NSCN IM and other groups has been elusive, holding of elections in Nagaland with an all party government denotes intra regional consensus.
Here is a status review of these developments -
The Home Minister Mr Amit Shah summarized the accords made in the North East recently. He highlighted that in August 2019, agreement was signed with NLFT(SD) in Tripura bringing insurgents into the mainstream.
The Bodo Accord of January, 2020 has resolved the 5 decades old Bodo problem of Assam.
In January 2020, a historic agreement was signed to resolve the decades old Bru-Reang refugee crisis, under which 37,000 internally displaced people are being resettled in Tripura.
The Karbi-Anglang Agreement of September, 2021 has resolved the long-standing dispute in the Karbi region of Assam. An agreement has been signed with the tribal group of Assam in September 2022 as per Press Information Bureau Report.
Progress of Bodo Accord
A Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) was signed between Government of India, Government of Assam and representatives of Bodo Groups on 27.01.2020 to end decades old Bodo crisis. Most of the clauses of MoS have been implemented which include surrender of 1615 cadres along with arms and ammunition, setting up of Bodo Kachari Welfare Council; establishment of a separate Directorate of Bodo Medium Schools; creation of a separate Welfare of Bodoland Department to deal with matters relating to councils under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution including Bodo Territorial Council (BTC), etc. Clause 10.1 of the MoS provides for a Special Development Package of Rs. 1500 crore (Rs. 750 crore by GoI and Rs. 750 crore by Govt. of Assam) for undertaking specific projects.
Illustrative lists have been appended at Annexure-II, III & IV of MoS which include Central University, North- East Regional Institute of Medical Science, National Institute of Technology etc. A Joint Monitoring Committee constituted with representatives of Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of Assam, BTC and Bodo organizations, monitors the implementation of MoS on regular basis. This was stated by the Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Nityanand Rai in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha
Cease Fire Agreement Extension
Ceasefire Agreements are in operation between Government of India and National Socialist Council of Nagaland/NK (NSCN/NK), National Socialist Council of Nagaland/ Reformation (NSCN/R) and National Socialist Council of Nagaland/K-Khango (NSCN/K-Khango). It was decided to extend the Ceasefire Agreements for a further period of one year with effect from 28th April, 2023 to 27th April, 2024 with NSCN/NK and NSCN/R and from 18th April, 2023 to 17th April, 2024 with NSCN/K-Khango. These Agreements were signed on 6th April, 2023.
Reduction in Disturbed Areas and AFSPA Jurisdiction
Home Minister Mr Amit Shah announced recently that the Government of India has once again decided to reduce the disturbed areas in Nagaland, Assam and Manipur under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). Compared to the year 2014, there is a reduction of 76% in the extremist incidents in the year 2022. Similarly, the deaths of security personnel and civilians have come down by 90% and 97% respectively during this period he said.
Due to improvement in the security situation by the Modi government, the disturbed area notification under AFSPA was completely withdrawn from Tripura in 2015 and Meghalaya in 2018.
The Disturbed Areas Notification is in force since 1990 in the whole of Assam. As a result of significant improvement in the security situation due to the untiring efforts of the government, the disturbed areas under AFSPA were removed with effect form 01.0.4.22 from the entire state of Assam except 9 districts and one sub-division of another district, and from 01.04.2023 it has been reduced to only 8 districts.
Disturbed area declaration under AFSPA in Manipur (except Imphal Municipality area) was in operation since 2004. Taking an important step by the central government under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi, 15 police station areas of 6 districts were taken out of the disturbed area notification from 01.04.2022, and now from 01.04.2023 the disturbed area notification under AFSPA is being withdrawn from 4 other police station. Thus, 19 police stations in 7 districts of Manipur have been removed from the disturbed area notification under AFSPA.
The Disturbed Areas Notification was applicable in the whole of Nagaland from since 1995. Following the recommendation of the committee constituted in this context to remove AFSPA in a phased manner, the disturbed area notification was withdrawn from 15 police stations of 7 districts with effect from 01.04.2022. It is further being withdrawn from 3 other police stations with effect form 01.04.2023, therefore, a total of 18 police stations in 8 districts of Nagaland are being removed from the disturbed area notification under AFSPA.
The home ministry said in the fresh notification. "And whereas a further review of the law-and-order situation in the state of Arunachal Pradesh has been undertaken. Now, therefore, Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts in Arunachal Pradesh and the areas falling within the jurisdiction of Namsai, Mahadevpur and Chowkham police stations in Namsai district of Arunachal Pradesh, bordering the state of Assam, are declared as 'disturbed area' under Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 for a period of six months with effect from April 1, 2023, unless withdrawn earlier," one of the notifications said.
In the other notification, the home ministry said the central government in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 3 of the AFSPA, 1958 (28 of 1958) had declared nine districts and 16 police stations in four other districts of Nagaland as 'disturbed area' for a period of six months with effect from October 1, 2022. It said, now, the disturbed area status will be applicable in eight districts and 21 police stations areas falling under five other districts. "And whereas a further review of the law and order situation in the state of Nagaland has been undertaken. Now, therefore, Dimapur, Niuland, Chumoukedima, Mon, Kiphire, Noklak, Phek and Peren districts in Nagaland and the areas in Nagaland falling within the jurisdiction of i) Khuzama, Kohima North, Kohima South, Zubza and Kezocha police stations in Kohima District; ii) Mangkolemba, Mokokchung-I, Longtho, Tuli, Longchem and Anaki 'C' police stations in Mokokchung District; iii) Yanglok police station in Longleng District; iv) Bhandari, Champang and Ralan police stations in Wokha District; and v) Ghatashi, Pughoboto, Satakha, Suruhuto, Zunheboto and Aghunato police stations in Zunheboto District, are declared as 'disturbed area' under Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 for a period of six months with effect from April 1, 2023, unless withdrawn earlier," the notification said.