Senior Congress leader and former Union minister P Chidambaram criticised the Narendra Modi government on Friday after a newspaper reported that the Centre was planning to withdraw the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, or AFSPA, completely in Assam.

According to The Times of India, the law is likely to be withdrawn in August and the Centre has asked the Army to plan its return from the state. AFSPA 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.

“BJP criticised the Congress Manifesto promise to review AFSPA,” Chidambaram tweeted. “Now, Modi Government is planning to withdraw AFSPA totally from Assam! During the campaign, Mr Modi never answered the question why AFSPA was withdrawn from Tripura, Meghalaya and parts of Arunachal Pradesh.”

Chidambaram accused the government of “sleeping on the job for five years”. “...Modi government is collecting the number of posts that are lying vacant in the central government!” he said. “Thanks to the Congress Manifesto promising to fill 4 lakh vacancies by 31 March 2020.”

The Congress manifesto, which was released in April, promised to amend the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, or AFSPA “to remove immunity for enforced disappearance, sexual violence and torture.”

In September, the Centre had delegated to Assam the power to extend or withdrawn AFSPA. The state government extended the Act twice, citing the National Register of Citizens exercise going on in the state. “The NRC process will be through by July 30,” an unidentified security official told The Times of India. “We have been informally asked to plan where the operational units will head to after moving out of the state.”