Rahul Trivedi All materialsThe entire state of Assam was declared a disturbed area and brought under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act on November 27, 1990. Since then, it has been extended seven times. In 2017, however, Delhi granted the state government the power to impose or withdraw the act on its own.State chief of India’s Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma, on Monday said that his government is planning to withdraw the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) from two more areas of the state as the law and order situation has “considerably improved” there.
Addressing a function to offer financial support to surrendered militants for rehabilitation, Sarma said, "Peace has returned to Assam and Northeast. Today, AFSPA is withdrawn from 65 per cent [of the] areas of the state. In the future, we are considering to withdraw it from Lakhipur of Cachar and the entire Karbi Anglong district."
“Following the withdrawal of two more areas from the ambit of the AFSPA, only six districts in Upper Assam will remain under the law’s purview,” he added.Sarma also handed over demand drafts to 318 former militants who have surrendered in the past. Notably, a one-time grant of INR 150,000 ($1,811) each was offered to the militant groups like the United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent), United Gorkha People’s Organization (UGPO), Tiwa Liberation Army (TLA), Kuki Liberation Front (KLF), Dimasa National Liberation Army (DNLA), and Kuki National Liberation Army (KNLA).The AFSPA was extended for six months from October 1 with the continuation of the “Disturbed Area” tag for Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Charaideo, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Karbi Anglong and the Dima Hasao districts along with Lakhipur sub-division of Cachar district in the Barak valley.However, on October 20, the government withdrew the law from West Karbi Anglong district in view of the improved law and order situation.Earlier, in March this year, the federal government reduced the areas falling under the ambit of the AFSPA in Nagaland, Assam, and Manipur and the decision was widely welcomed by the state chiefs.
What is the AFSPA?
The AFSPA, passed in the Indian parliament in 1958, provides sweeping powers to security forces to search and arrest anyone without a prior warrant and even resort to shooting if it is deemed necessary for the maintenance of public order.The Act was passed in order to control the increasing violence in northeastern states of the country.Originally, the act was imposed by the British government to suppress the Quit India Movement in 1941, but after India gained independence in 1947, then-Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru chose to retain it.