Exercising its power under the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), the Assam Government on March 17th, 2020, has declared the state “disturbed area” for six months.
The notification issued by the state home and political department declared Assam ‘disturbed’ area for a period of six months beyond 28-02-2020, unless withdrawn earlier, as per power conferred under the AFSPA 1958, an official release said.
“A review of the latest law and order situation in the entire State of Assam in the past six months indicates the presence of extremist elements in certain parts of the State even though some of the extremists groups has surrendered en masse, and the armed outfits may attempt to exploit the law and order situation that may arouse due to Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 passed by Parliament of India on December 11th, 2019 and attempt to lure misguided youths into its fold,” a government press release stated.
Armed forces deployed in disturbed areas are empowered to arrest, search any premises and even shoot anyone without any warrant.
As per Section 3 of the AFSPA, it can be invoked in places where “the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary”. Both the central and the state government can declare any area as ‘disturbed’ under the Act.
It may be mentioned that the state was first declared ‘disturbed’ area under the AFSPA in 1990 when the state had witnessed massive violence perpetrated by the banned insurgent group ULFA and president’s rule was imposed after dismissing the then AGP government headed by Prafulla Kumar Mahanta. Since then, the central government has been exercising the powers given under the AFSPA.
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