GUWAHATI, Dec 19 � The Government of India extended the period of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in Assam for another year in November despite strong reservations by a Central intelligence agency and improvement of the overall law and order situation.
Highly placed sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) told The Assam Tribune that the AFSPA was imposed in Assam in 1990 and the tenure of the Act has been extended by a year every year. But this time, with the improvement of the situation, there were discussions on whether the term of the Act should be extended again, but after lots of deliberations, it was extended again for another year and the whole of Assam has again been declared as a disturbed area.
Sources said that the MHA sought the views of the State Government, Defence Ministry and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) on the issue of extension of the term of the AFSPA in Assam. However, the Government, despite strong reservations by the intelligence agency, decided to extend the Act after the State Government and the Defence Ministry wanted that the term of the Act should be extended.
Sources revealed that the level of violence in Assam has come down by at least 50 percent this year after a number of militant outfits came forward for solution of the problems through dialogues by signing ceasefire agreements with the Government. This was the main reason for the intelligence agency�s reservation on extension of the Act in Assam for another year and the agency is of the view that the police should now play the lead role in dealing with militants with assistance of the Central paramilitary forces.
Sources pointed out that according to the intelligence agency, there is no need to declare the entire Assam as disturbed area at present as the consequences of the same can be dangerous. Sources pointed out that as per the provisions of the AFSPA, the normal laws of the country are not applicable and there have been allegations of excesses by the Army personnel while launching counter insurgency operations. Giving an example, MHA sources said that according to Section 174 of the CRPC, all cases of unnatural deaths including killings in encounters should be investigated properly, but the same is not done in case of killings by the armed forces in a disturbed area.
The Central intelligence agency also expressed the view that the State Government should increase the strength of the police force to deal with the situation and pointed out that the Assam Police force dealt with worse situations in the past, particularly during the Assam Agitation.
Meanwhile, commenting on the overall law and order situation, sources said that there has been marked improvement of the situation and the level of violence has come down. However, ethnic tensions in some parts of the North East escalated and the potential threat by the Maoists is a matter of concern. The efforts by the hardline faction of the ULFA to regain lost ground is also a matter of concern.
Sources said that extortions and kidnappings should be dealt with strongly by the police and security forces.