The Telegraph
Saturday , May 13 , 2017

Assam mulls partial AFSPA repeal

DGP Mukesh Sahay in Tezpur on Friday. Telegraph picture

Guwahati, May 12: The Assam government is exploring the possibility of revoking the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act from certain districts of the state which are currently free of insurgency.

Additional director-general of police (special branch) Pallab Bhattacharyya said the state government was likely to take up the matter with the Centre during the next review meeting on continuation of AFSPA in the state.

The Union home ministry had recently extended AFSPA in the state for three months with effect from May 3 and the review meeting will be held before August 3, when the contentious act will expire in the state. Usually, AFSPA is extended for one year or six months. This was the first time it was extended for only three months.

The Union home ministry, in its order, said 75 incidents of violence in Assam in 2016 had claimed the lives of 33 people, including four security personnel, while 14 were abducted during this period. Till May 3 this year, there were nine incidents of violence in which four people, including two security personnel, were killed. The violence was perpetrated by insurgent groups like Ulfa (Independent) and NDFB (Songbijit).

Bhattacharyya said the phased withdrawal of AFSPA was raised at a meeting of the Unified Command held at the army's 4 Corps headquarters in Tezpur today but it could not be discussed in detail since the meeting was convened to review security for Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is scheduled to visit the state on May 26.

The Centre had imposed AFSPA in Assam on November 27, 1990 by declaring the entire state as "disturbed area" following largescale violence by Ulfa.

The state government is considering withdrawing AFSPA from districts like Jorhat, Golaghat, Nagaon, Morigaon, Majuli and Dibrugarh. However, it will not be revoked in districts such as Tinsukia, Charaideo, Sivasagar and Chirang which border Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Meghalaya and the neighbouring country of Bhutan and where Ulfa (I) and NDFB (S) are still active.

Bhattacharyya said security had been beefed up in the state for the Prime Minister's visit as there was apprehension that Ulfa (I) could carry out strikes ahead of the visit. "We don't want to leave anything to chance as we have received information that Ulfa (I) has plans to carry out grenade attacks in different parts of the state, including Guwahati." He said as a part of that plan, the militant outfit had lobbed a grenade at the house of one Joginder Singh at Kakopathar in Tinsukia district on May 4, injuring Singh and his minor daughter Rinki.

Bhattacharyya said a Myanmar-trained Ulfa (I) cadre, Haren Deka alias Nikhil Asom, 25, who was part of the Ulfa (I) team that had allegedly planned the grenade attacks in the state, was apprehended by Nagaon police last month. Deka hails from Naharbari village under Kalaigaon police station in Darrang district.

Tinsukia police will take Deka into custody to interrogate him about the Kakopathar grenade attack and other subversive plans of the outfit, he added.

After attending the Unified Command meeting, Assam director-general of police Mukesh Sahay said Ulfa (I) was recruiting youths from different parts of the state, the outfit's chief Paresh Barua was suspected to be operating from Myanmar and that the ongoing operation against the NDFB (S) would continue.

Assam chief secretary V.K. Pipersenia, home secretaries L.S. Changsan and Hemanta Narzary, Arunachal Pradesh DGP Sandeep Goel and other senior officials also attended the Unified Command meeting.


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