GUWAHATI, July 11 � The Intelligence Bureau (IB) had vehemently opposed the extension of the tenure of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in Assam but the Union Home Ministry extended it following pressure from the Assam Government and the Army. Meanwhile, though the number of killings by militants in coming down drastically, the �extra judicial killings� increased sharply.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, RN Ravi, who recently retired as the Special Director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), pointed out that withdrawal of the AFSPA is vital for restoration of normalcy in the North East region and that is why the IB had opposed the extension of the Act for one more year in Assam. He said that when the matter of extension of the Act in Assam for one more year came up, the IB opposed it as the situation in the State improved considerably, but the State Government and the Army wanted the Act to continue and the Union Home Ministry decided to extend it for one more year with effect from November last year.
At present, the AFSPA is imposed in Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, except the Imphal Municipal Area, the tribal areas of Tripura, Tirap and Changlang districts of Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. The Act is also applicable in a 20 kilometer radius all around Assam. Interestingly, though the level of violence in some of the Maoist infested states of the country is much higher than in Assam, the Act has not been imposed in those places. Though the Union Home Minister , P Chidambaram was in favour of deployment of the Army in some of the Maoist infested states, the Army wanted the imposition of the AFSPA before their deployment and till date, the Government could not take a decision in this regard.
Justifying the IB�s opposition to the extension of the AFSPA in Assam, Ravi said that the Act which undermines the fundamental rights of the people, is imposed under extraordinary circumstances when the integrity of the country is at stake. But the situation in Assam at this moment does not warrant continuation with the Act as the level of violence has come down and apart from one faction of the ULFA, most of the militant groups have signed cease fire agreements with the Government. Though the Government is yet to sign cease-fire agreement with the Ranjan Daimary faction of the NDFB, the outfit declared unilateral cease-fire and the Government is unofficially talking with the outfit. Though extortion is a menace, there is no need for AFSPA for curbing extortions.
The former Special Director of the IB said that the AFSPA virtually dilutes the accountability of the laws of the land and the extra judicial killings have increased. He said that according to records available, in the last three years, the killings by militants have come down but extra judicial killings have increased. In 2011, 32 persons were killed in Assam by the militants, while, 87 persons were killed by security forces.
Under the normal system, a person can be killed only in self defence or to prevent a killing. But the situation is totally different when a state is placed under the AFSPA as the Act undermines the normal laws and persons are being killed on suspicion. There is very little accountability on the forces when a state is placed under the Act and the killings by the security forces are not followed by probes, Ravi pointed out.