New Delhi: Union Home Minister Amit Shah is confident that the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act would be completely revoked in Assam due to the improved security situation in the state.
Shah, who is visiting Assam, said in Guwahati Tuesday that the AFSPA was partially withdrawn in the state (in April) because of abiding peace accords and better law and order.
In a major outreach to the Northeast on 31 March, the Union Home Ministry had announced the reduction of disturbed areas under AFSPA in Nagaland, Assam and Manipur from 1 April.
Amit Shah had tweeted: “Thanks to PM @NarendraModi Ji’s unwavering commitment, our Northeastern region, which was neglected for decades, is now witnessing a new era of peace, prosperity and unprecedented development. I congratulate the people of Northeast on this momentous occasion.”
Entire Assam had been under the Act since 1990. On 1 April, 23 of the 30-plus districts in the state were completely taken out of its purview. It was removed partially from one district.
The move came three months after the central government constituted a high-level committee to examine the possibility of lifting the AFSPA in Nagaland where 14 civilians were killed by the Army in December 2021 in a case of “mistaken identity”.
The law continues to remain in force in some areas of the three states.
In Guwahati, Amit Shah reiterated on Tuesday: “AFSPA was implemented in Assam in the 1990s. It was extended seven times. After eight years of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rule, 23 districts in the state have been made AFSPA-free. The Act has been removed from over 60 percent of Assam.”
He lauded the state police and said: “The Assam Police has successfully tackled insurgency, border issues, poaching of rhinoceros to emerge as one of the foremost police forces in India.”
“The force stood up to the problem of extremism to maintain constitutional order. They faced guns with guns and brought the distracted youth to the mainstream,” Shah added.
The Home Minister also said peace agreements were being signed “one after the other” with extremist groups. “Discussions are also on with neighbouring states to resolve seven-decade-old issues,” Shah said.
AFSPA has been in force for decades in Northeastern states to help forces battle insurgency.
The law empowers security men to conduct operations and arrest anyone without a prior warrant. It also gives immunity from arrest and prosecution to soldiers who shoot someone dead.
There have been sustained protests and demands for the complete withdrawal of the law from the Northeast as well as Jammu and Kashmir for its alleged “draconian” provisions.
Manipuri activist Irom Chanu Sharmila fought against the law by remaining on hunger strike for 16 years, before ending it on 9 August, 2016.