Assam to withdraw AFSPA from most areas tonight, says CM Himanta Biswa Sarma
- Sarma said the Act would, however, continue to remain in force in nine districts and one sub-division.
Assam will withdraw the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from 60 percent of its territory from Thursday night, chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said in a press conference. His statement came soon after Union home minister Amit Shah said disturbed areas under AFSPA were being reduced in Nagaland, Assam and Manipur after decades.
Sarma said the Act would, however, continue to remain in force in nine districts and one sub-division. "Assam will withdraw AFSPA completely from midnight today, except in nine districts and one subdivision," the chief minister was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
The contentious Act that gives special powers to the armed forces to maintain public order in areas deemed as "disturbed", will be withdrawn completely from lower, central and north Assam, Sarma said. With this, 23 districts of Assam are now being removed completely and one district partially from the effect of AFSPA.
“AFSPA will be present in the hilly regions of Assam where the situation is yet to be improved. Assam has a total of 78,438 sq-km geographical area. All this area was under disturbed area and now this has been confined to 31,724.94 sq-km,” he said.
"After 2014, AFSPA was first withdrawn from Mizoram, then it was also withdrawn from Meghalaya. Last year, it was withdrawn from Arunachal Pradesh except for two polling stations. Today, the time has come for Assam, Nagaland and Manipur to withdraw AFSPA," Sarma added.
Sarma further said Assam had signed a border treaty with Meghalaya after 50 years and the next phase of discussion on the same will begin in April. “We'll have a serious dialogue with Arunachal Pradesh. During this 'Amrit Kaal', Assam wants to settle its border problems with Arunachal and Meghalaya,” he added.
Earlier in the day, Shah said the decision to reduce disturbed areas under AFSPA was taken following an “improved security situation and fast-tracked development” owing to consistent efforts and many agreements to end insurgency in the region.
Disturbed area notification had been in force in the whole of Assam since 1990. The Act empowers security forces to arrest or conduct operations anywhere without producing any prior warrant.
Since then the Act had been extended every six months in consultation with the state government. It was last extended on February 28 this year. "So far, 62 times, governments of Assam have extended AFSPA since 1990," Sarma said, while praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for taking a "bold decision" to withdraw the controversial Act.
In 2005, the Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee had recommended the repeal of AFSPA and suggested an amendment to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967 by inserting a new chapter with respect to northeastern states.