Himanta discusses with Shah complete withdrawal of AFSPA from Assam

New Delhi: Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday met Union Home Minister Amit Shah here and discussed the roadmap for complete withdrawal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act from the state.

Sarma said his government will take further steps based on the suggestions of the home minister.

“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,” he wrote on microblogging site X.

The controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), 1958 gives armed forces personnel, operating in disturbed areas, sweeping powers to search, arrest and open fire if they deem it necessary for “the maintenance of public order”.

An area or district is notified as a disturbed area under the AFSPA to facilitate the operations of the armed forces.

Because of the sweeping powers given to the armed forces, many organisations have termed the Act “draconian” and have been demanding its annulment.

The disturbed area notification has been in force in entire Assam since 1990 and has been extended for a long period by the central government, and now by the state government.

The disturbed area tag, imposed under the AFSPA, was removed from the entire state of Assam, except nine districts and one sub-division of one district, from April 1, 2022. Now, it has been limited to only eight districts in the north eastern state.

It is applicable now in Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Charaideo, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao districts.

Hoisting the tricolour on the 77th Independence Day in Guwahati last month, the chief minister said his government would take necessary steps to withdraw AFSPA from the entire state by the end of this year.

“I want to assure the people of Assam that by the end of this year, we will take fruitful steps to withdraw the AFSPA from every district of Assam. That will be an ‘amritmoy’ time for Assam’s history and we are eagerly waiting for that day,” he said.

Since the beginning of its application in Assam more than three decades ago, the extension of the AFSPA was recommended 62 times, Sarma said.

“The northeast region is now free from terrorism. In the last three years, four peace accords have been signed with rebels of Assam and around 8,000 rebels have returned to the mainstream,” he had said.