Central “Reduction of ‘Disturbed Areas’ Notification in Assam: A New Era of Security”

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The “disturbed areas” notification of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, or Afspa, has been further reduced to four districts in Assam, effective from Sunday, for a period of six months. Assam DGP G P Singh announced this at an event marking Assam Police Day. He stated that Tinsukia, Sivasagar, and Charaideo districts will continue to be notified as “disturbed areas” from October 1. These four Upper Assam districts have been strongholds of the militant group ULFA in the past.

The “disturbed areas” notification is applicable for six months, and can be extended by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The last extension of the notification in these eight districts was on April 1. Until now, Golaghat, Karbi Anglong, and Dima Hasao also came under the jurisdiction of “disturbed areas”.

The ‘disturbed areas’ notification has been in place for the whole of Assam since 1990. However, last year, the Centre removed the notification under Afspa from the entire state except for nine districts and one sub-division of another district. In March this year, it was further withdrawn from one more district in the state.

The Assam government recommended to the Centre last month that the disturbed areas notification be removed from all eight of the remaining districts with effect from October 1, citing “the significant improvement in the security situation of the State and subsequent accelerated development”.

Afspa empowers the armed forces to “fire upon or otherwise use force, even to the causing of death” against “any person who is acting in contravention of any law or order” if they think it is necessary to do so. It also disallows the prosecution of persons acting under the Act except with the sanction of the Central Government.

Sukrita is a reporter based in Guwahati, covering India’s North East.

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