The Centre is making efforts to completely remove the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, or AFSPA, from the North East, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday.

“[...] during the last eight years, we have removed AFSPA from many areas of [the] North East due to the arrival of permanent peace and better law and order conditions”, Modi said, while speaking at the “Peace, Unity and Development” rally in Assam.

AFSPA gives Army personnel in “disturbed areas” sweeping powers to search, arrest, and open fire if they deem it necessary for “the maintenance of public order”. The demand for the removal of the law has gained prominence after 14 civilians were killed by the security forces in Nagaland’s Mon district in December 2021.

AFSPA was repealed from some areas of Nagaland, Assam and Manipur from April 1.

Modi on Thursday also said that the government has entered into peace agreements with militant outfits in Assam’s Karbi Anglong and Tripura.

“Several outfits of Karbi Anglong returned to the mainstream to march forward in the path of peace and development,” he said. “The Bodo Agreement in 2020 paved the way for peace in the region and in Tripura, the NLFT also came forward for the peace, while the two-and-a-half decade long Bru-Reang issue was resolved.”

The Bodo Agreement augmented the powers of the Bodoland Territorial Council, which controls five districts in Assam that share borders with other states. The need for the agreement stemmed from a separate demand for Bodoland.

An agreement was also signed with representatives of the Bru tribe in 2020 for permanent settlement of its members. The Bru tribe was displaced from Mizoram 24 years ago following the murder of a forest guard at the state’s Dampa Tiger Reserve. He was allegedly killed by the Bru militants. It had led to a violent backlash against the community, forcing thousands to flee to neighbouring Tripura.

Difficulties in the northeast are reducing since 2014 and development is taking place, said Modi on Thursday. “In the coming few years, together we have to make up for the development, which we could not achieve in the earlier decades,” he said.