The Assam government on Thursday extended the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, or AFSPA, in eight districts and one sub-division for six months, reported PTI.

However, the West Karbi Anglong district has been exempted from being declared a “disturbed area” under the law, with the government saying that the law and order situation has considerably improved in the region.

The AFSPA gives Army personnel in disturbed areas sweeping powers to search, arrest, and to open fire if they deem it necessary for “the maintenance of public order”.

The law was first imposed in Assam in November 1990 and is extended after a review of the security situation every six months. It was last extended in March but a month later, the Assam government withdrew the law from the state except for nine districts and one sub-division.

In Assam, the AFSPA is currently in force in Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Charaideo, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao besides Lakhipur sub-division of Cachar district in the Barak Valley. The extension is applicable from October 1.

In the North East, the law is also in force in parts of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur. Chief ministers of northeastern states as well as several members of civil society and tribal bodies have been demanding that the law be withdrawn.

The demand had gained prominence after the killing of 14 civilians by security forces in Mon district in December.

In March, the Union government had reduced the number of areas which fall under the ambit of the AFSPA in Nagaland, Assam and Manipur. The areas which are no longer under AFSPA since April 1 are:

  • Twenty-three districts of Assam and partial removal from one district. There are a total of 33 districts in Assam.
  • Fifteen police station jurisdictions in six of the 16 districts of Manipur. Earlier, the entire state, except the municipal limits of the capital city Imphal, was classified as disturbed area.
  • Fifteen police station jurisdictions in seven out of 15 districts in Nagaland. The entire state had been classified as disturbed area since 1995.