The Assam government on Thursday said it has extended the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) by six months in eight districts and one sub-division after reviewing the law and order situation. However, the government withdrew the controversial law from West Karbi Anglong district as the situation has improved significantly. Neeraj Verma, Principal Secretary, Home and Political Department, said in an order that the six-month extension of AFSPA is effective from October 1. The order, dated October 15 and issued on Thursday, said eight districts and one sub-division have been kept as disturbed areas with effect from April 1 after the law was withdrawn from the rest of the state.
The review of the law and order and security scenario in Assam in the recent past indicates that the situation in West Karbi Anglong district of the state has improved significantly, the order said. The Governor of Assam is withdrawing the declaration of ‘disturbed area’ from West Karbi Anglong with effect from 01.10.2022. Apart from Lakhipur sub-division of Cachar in Barak Valley, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Charaideo, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao districts are still disturbed areas.
The Act was enacted in Assam in November 1990 and has since been extended every six months after the state government reviewed the situation. AFSPA allows security forces to conduct operations anywhere and arrest anyone without a prior warrant. It also gives security forces a certain level of immunity in case an operation goes wrong.
Civil society groups and rights activists have been demanding the withdrawal of the draconian law from across the North East, claiming human rights violations by the armed forces. Demands for repeal of the Act have intensified after 14 civilians were killed in firing by security forces in anti-militancy operation and retaliatory violence in Nagaland’s Mon district on December 4, 2021.