Guwahati: A day after Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced to reduce the disturbed areas under the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) in three northeastern states — Nagaland, Assam and Manipur — Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Friday that the step would facilitate the continuance of peace and boost industrialisation and economy in the state.
The AFSPA has been in force in Assam since 1990 and as per the Centre’s announcement on Thursday, it would be removed completely from 23 districts, and would remain enforced in 9 districts and one sub-division in Assam with effect from Friday.
Urging the militant outfits to come forward for talks to ensure lasting peace in Assam, the Chief Minister, while making a statement on AFSPA in the state Assembly, said that the United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent and other outfits can take the opportunity to resolve their issues.
“Following improved security situation, the Central government has decided to withdraw AFSPA from 23 districts and one sub-division of the state with effect from April 1,” said Sarma, who also holds the home portfolio.
“From today (Friday), AFSPA will not be operational in 80 per cent areas of Assam. Since 1990, the term of AFSPA was extended 61 times,” Sarma said, as he thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah for the decision to reduce AFSPA.
The special law was last extended in Assam for six months on February 28 this year.
The Chief Minister said that at present, the army is deployed in only five districts — Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Charaideo, Karbi-Anglong and Dima Hasao.
The AFSPA will be in operation in Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Charaideo, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Karbi Anglong, West Karbi Anglong, Dima Hasao and Lakhipur sub-division of Cachar district, he said, adding that there would be no AFSPA in central, lower and northern Assam.
It would only be operational in the hill districts and in eastern Assam, he added.
Shah on Thursday announced to reduce the operation of AFSPA in Assam, Nagaland and Manipur following similar demand by many political parties and NGOs.
The demand intensified after the security forces killed 14 people and injured 30 others in Mon district of Nagaland in December last year.
Almost all Chief Ministers of the northeastern states and most political parties welcomed the Central government’s announcement to reduce the number of disturbed areas under AFSPA.
AFSPA — which allows the army and other central para-military forces to conduct raids, and arrest anyone anywhere without prior notice or arrest warrant — was in force in Nagaland, Assam, Manipur barring the Imphal municipal council area and certain districts of Arunachal Pradesh.