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What is AFSPA and why this act became necessary

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New Delhi, Apr 04: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has accused the Congress of trying to dilute the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA). Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the Congress was trying to remove the shield for the Indian Army, after the Congress said in its manifesto that it would change some of the provisions in the act.

AFSPA was introduced to give the armed forces the power to maintain public order in disturbed areas.

What is AFSPA and why this act became necessary

Under the act, the forces have the power to prohibit a gathering of five or more persons in an area.

Further the forces have the power to open fire after giving a due warning, if it felt that a person is not obeying the law. The Army can also arrest a person without a warrant, if reasonable suspicion exists.

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The powers to carry out a search without warrant and ban possession of firearms are also some of the provisions under the act.

AFSPA is imposed in disturbed areas, which is declared by way of a notification under Section 3 of the act. Under this section, the Centre or Governor of a State can declare the entire state or part of it as a disturbed area. The act says that a notification should be made in the Official Gazette and the same can be invoked in areas where the use of armed forces in the aid of civil power is necessary.

AFSPA came into force mainly to curb violence in the Northeastern states. The act was passed by both houses of Parliament and approved by the President of India on September 11 1958.

The act has been questioned several times by human rights activists. It may be recalled that after ten people who were waiting at a bus stop in Manipur were killed, Irom Sharmila went on a fast from November 200, which went on until August 2016.

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