The Assam government on Saturday announced that it had extended the implementation of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in the state for six more months. The Home and Political Department of Assam on February 28 declared the whole state a “disturbed area” under the 1958 Act.

The Bharatiya Janata Party government had made a similar declaration in September 2017, while extending the implementation of the act by six months. That was the first ever occasion on which AFSPA had been extended by the state instead of the Centre.

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act gives the military sweeping powers to search and arrest, and to open fire if they deem it necessary for “the maintenance of Public Order”, and to do so with a degree of immunity from prosecution. The law, a legacy of the colonial administration, was meant to address emergencies in regions affected by conflict.

For the law to be imposed, an entire state or a part of the state would have to be declared a “disturbed area”. In Assam, after ethnic insurgencies broke out in the 1980s, disturbed areas were notified and the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act was imposed by the Centre.

‘No rethinking on AFSPA’

Meanwhile, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Saturday that there would be no rethinking on AFSPA in Jammu and Kashmir. She added that Indian security forces were responding “proportionately” to Pakistani firing along the Line of Control, and able to keep infiltrators in check.