Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi on Wednesday declared the entire state a “disturbed area” under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act for six more months beginning February 27, PTI reported. The order came ahead of the Assembly elections scheduled to take place in state in April-May.
“As per powers conferred under Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, the Governor of Assam has declared the entire state of Assam as ‘disturbed area’ upto six months beyond 27/02/2021, unless withdrawn earlier,” the state government said.
The order is an extension of a notification issued in August last year, through which the government extended AFSPA in the state for six months.
However, the government did not give any reason for the fresh extension. An unidentified official from Assam’s home department told India Today that some extremist groups were still active in parts of state and its neighbouring areas. The official added that illegal arms and ammunition had been recovered from several parts of Assam in the last six months.
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.
The Bharatiya Janata Party-led state government had extended the Act twice in 2019, citing the work on the National Register of Citizens.