Assam Gets AFSPA Extension

According to the Assam government release, AFSPA has been extended for a period of six months.

In light of recently released Assam’s NRC final list and consequent socio-political upheaval, Assam government has ordered the extension of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), allowing security forces to arrest anyone without prior notice. The security forces engaged in counter-insurgency operations in Assam had also favoured the AFSPA to remain applicable in the entire state as final NRC was being published last week and the state was in high alert.

According to the Assam government release, AFSPA has been extended for another six months till February, 2020 next year after its earlier duration ended on August 28, 2019.

The declaration was made under Section 3 of the AFPSA by the state Home and political department, the release said.

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In an official communiqué the state government stated, “Consequent upon review of law and order situation in Assam, in the past six months, the State Government vide a Notification issued to this effect by the Home & Political Department, Assam and as per Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, has declared the entire State of Assam as “Disturbed Area” w.e.f 28-08-2019 upto six months unless withdrawn earlier.”

The act which empowers security forces to conduct operations, arrest anyone anywhere without prior notice has been continuing in Assam since November 1990 but had ceded its power in September 2017.

The home ministry had tagged the entire state as a ‘disturbed area’ to promulgate the controversial Act on November 27, 1990 at the height of militancy spearheaded by ULFA, and made the last extension of enforcement of AFSPA till August 31, 2017, before deciding not to take any decision on the matter in future because the situation in the state did not warrant it.

The move comes despite the fact that there have been several demands from various quarters of state and national organizations to remove the ‘controversial’ Act. The act allows the forces to ‘Shoot to kill’ but critics believe that the deployed personnel act like they also have licence to kill; search houses; destroy property; and make arrests without warrant.

The soldiers, it is argued, make decisions on their discretion. There have been many cases of soldiers shooting down entire villages on the suspicion of hiding insurgents. One such case saw 10 civilians shot while they were waiting in a bus station, by security personnel, in Manipur. This incident had also triggered Irom Sharmila to go on a hunger strike for 9 years against the AFSPA.

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