Assam Chief Minister, Dr.Himanta Biswa Sarma met Union Home Minister Amit Shah at the latter’s official residence here on Monday and pleaded for complete withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from the State.
In course of the meeting that lasted for 30 minutes, Chief Minister Sarma and Union Home Minister Shah discussed threadbare the roadmap for complete withdrawal of AFSPA from Assam. The Chief Minister cited the significant improvement in the law and order situation, surrendering of scores of underground cadres of extremist outfits with huge cache of arms and ammunition following signing of several peace accords and drastic fall in deaths of security personnel and civilians as reasons for complete lifting of AFSPA from Assam. The Union Home Minister put forth some suggestions to the Chief Minister to pave the way for complete withdrawal of AFSPA from Assam. Sarma assured Shah that the state government would take further steps based on his suggestions.
Later taking to X (formerly Twitter), Chief Minister Sarma said, “I met Hon’ble Union Home Minister @AmitShah ji at his residence today to discuss the roadmap for the complete withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act from Assam. The Government of Assam will take further steps based on the suggestions of Hon’ble Home Minister.”
It may be noted that the ‘Disturbed Area’ notification was in force since 1990 in the whole of Assam. On April 1, 2022, the AFSPA was removed from the entire State of Assam except for nine districts, including one subdivision of another district. From April 1, the districts under the AFSPA in Assam were further reduced to eight as the Act was withdrawn from the Lakhipur subdivision of Cachar district.
The law gives unbridled power to the Armed Forces and the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) deployed in “Disturbed Areas” to kill anyone acting in contravention of the law; arrest and search any premises without a warrant; and protection from prosecution and legal suits without the Central Government’s sanction.
According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, compared to the year 2014, there is a reduction of 76% in the extremist incidents in the North East region in 2022. Similarly, the deaths of security personnel and civilians have come down by 90% and 97% respectively during this period.
Chief Minister Sarma, in his Independence Day address in Guwahati, said his government’s aim is to completely withdraw AFSPA from the state by the end of 2023. “AFSPA is in place in eight districts of Assam now after our government came to power. Our government’s aim is to completely withdraw AFSPA from the state by the end of this year. Before our government came to power, previous governments had requested the Centre to extend AFSPA 62 times. Now the situation has been improving.” Sarma also said that during his tenure, four peace accords were signed with the insurgent groups and nearly 8,000 militants have been integrated with the mainstream politics.