For the first time in nearly three decades, the Assam government has exercised its power under the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act by declaring the entire state "disturbed" for six months beginning today.
The notification issued by the state home and political department declared Assam 'disturbed' area for a period of six months, unless withdrawn earlier, as per power conferred under the AFSPA 1958, an official release said.
Armed forces deployed in disturbed areas are empowered to arrest, search any premises and even shoot anyone without any warrant. As per Section 3 of the AFSPA, it can be invoked in places where "the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary". Both the central and the state government can declare any area as 'disturbed' under the Act.
Assam was first declared 'disturbed' area under the AFSPA in 1990 when the state had witnessed massive violence perpetrated by the banned insurgent group ULFA and president's rule was imposed after dismissing the then AGP government headed by Prafulla Kumar Mahanta. Since then, the central government has been exercising the powers given under the AFSPA.
The move to allow the state government to exercise the powers under the AFSPA came at a time when both the central and the Assam governments are ruled by the BJP.
The official release said the declaration has been made after assessing the present law and order situation in the state which has continued to be a matter of concern due to some violent incidents by underground outfits.
A home ministry official said in New Delhi that there were 75 incidents of violence in Assam in 2016, in which 33 people, including four security personnel, were killed and 14 others were abducted.
The violence was perpetrated in Assam by insurgent groups like ULFA, NDFB and others, the official said. However, the central government order declaring the 20 km belt in Meghalaya bordering Assam, three districts of Arunachal Pradesh -- Tirap, Changlang and Longding - and areas falling within the jurisdiction of 14 police stations in nine other districts in Arunachal Pradesh as 'disturbed' will continue till September 30.