Guwahati: Despite a marked improvement in the law and order situation, the Assam government is likely to seek continuation of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in the state for some more time, a senior police official said.
The central government on August 7 extended the clamping of AFSPA in the state by one month. The Union home ministry also declared Meghalaya’s border areas adjoining Assam and three districts of Arunachal Pradesh as “disturbed” under AFSPA for two more months, with effect from August 3.
The law grants special powers to the armed forces in such “disturbed areas”. AFSPA is a major issue in the Northeast, with rights organisations stoutly opposing its continuation.
In Assam, where AFSPA was first clamped in 1990 when insurgency was at its peak, the situation isn’t favourable enough to lift AFSPA, the senior official in the state police told ET.
“The Centre wants the state government to take a call on further extension of AFSPA,” the official said. “However, in the present situation, it is unlikely that there will be a complete withdrawal of the Act from the entire state.”
Withdrawal of the Army from security-related duties will create a vacuum and Assam currently does not have the requisite manpower to fulfil it, even as insurgent activities are still continuing, he said. “The Assam government has sought five companies of the Indian Reserve Battalion from the Centre. Till we get this, we will be facing a manpower shortage.”
The recent standoff between India and China in the Doklam area also demands that there is deployment of Army in Assam and adjoining areas, he said.
“We are expecting that AFSPA will be withdrawn by the end of this year or next year,” the official said. Currently, it is not feasible to withdraw the armed forces from Assam as the anti-talk ULFA faction is regrouping and has initiated a recruitment, he said, adding: “Insurgent outfits of the region are looking to strike in the run up to Independence Day celebrations.”