AFSPA extended for 6 months in Assam

Months before the Assembly polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in Assam on Wednesday extended the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA), in the state for six more months beyond February 27, an official said.

An Assam Home Department official said that the AFSPA has been extended considering the ground situation in Assam and adjoining northeastern states. Various political parties, organisations and civil society groups and activists have been demanding the removal of the “draconian law” from the northeastern states.

The AFSPA, which allows the Army and other paramilitary forces to conduct raids, and arrest anyone anywhere without prior notice or arrest warrant, has been in force in Assam since November 1990.

Security agencies and senior officials review the situation every six months to decide on its extension.

“The unified command structure comprising the Army, various central paramilitary and intelligence agencies and Assam Police always closely monitor the situations and terror activities in Assam,” the official said.

The AFSPA is also in force in entire Nagaland, certain districts of Arunachal Pradesh and most parts of Manipur barring the Imphal municipal areas.

Terming the AFSPA as a “draconian law”, renowned human rights activist Irom Chanu Sharmila of Manipur had fought for 16 long years till mid 2016, demanding its repeal.

Tripura is the only state in the northeast region where the AFSPA was withdrawn by the then Left Front government led by Communist Party of India-Marxist veteran and Chief Minister Manik Sarkar in 1998 after terror activities were tamed.