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Remove AFSPA from Assam: Parliamentary Standing Committee

Parliamentary

A CORRESPONDENT

NEW DELHI, Aug 19: The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs has suggested both New Delhi and Dispur to hold extensive discussions to narrow down their perception about the necessity of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in Assam.

Taking note of the fact that the Assam government has notified the whole State as disturbed area on the plea that it is not the appropriate time to reduce the area under AFSPA, the Parliamentary standing committee on home affairs has suggested both the Centre and the Assam government to narrow down their opinions.

The committee is unable to comprehend the divergent perceptions of the situation in Assam. “On one hand, the Ministry asserts that there has been an improvement in the security situation in Assam and, on the other hand, the area declared as disturbed under the AFSPA has been increased,” the committee headed by former Home Minister P Chidambaram said.
The committee termed it as a paradoxical situation ‘that needs to be resolved’.

The committee further noted that in order to assess the impact of removing AFSPA from Tripura, it wants to know whether it could be used as a model to initiate the process for removing AFSPA from other states where the security situation has significantly improved.

However, the MHA replied that in exercise of powers conferred under Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, certain areas of Tripura were under AFSPA since 1997. “Over time, due to the sustained operations of the security forces, there was a decline in extremist related incidents in the State. Gradual improvement in the security scenario was accompanied by surrender of militants in the State. The State Government of Tripura, therefore, vide notification dated 27th May, 2015, completely withdrew AFSPA from the State,” the Home Ministry said.

The Ministry has further informed the Committee that the withdrawal of AFSPA has sent a positive signal across the State and the north-eastern region.
Further, considering the improvement in law-and-order situation in Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya, the areas under AFSPA in Arunachal Pradesh have been reduced considerably.

The Committee observes that the withdrawal of AFSPA from Tripura has been quite successful in ensuring a peaceful situation and has given a hope to the other States in the region. The Committee is of the view that exercise of force must always be proportional to the operational requirements.
AFSPA has already been withdrawn from Meghalaya. The Committee recommends that with the improvement in security situation in most of the States, the Government should consider gradually reducing the area under AFSPA, especially in Assam.