Before the assembly polls in the state due in April-May, Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi on Wednesday declared the entire state as a ‘disturbed area’ for six months beginning February 27. Ahead of assembly elections in Assam, Governor Jagdish Mukhi on Wednesday declared the entire state as a ‘disturbed area’ for six months starting from February 27.
What is the reason for the extension?
The government extended the existing ‘disturbed area’ status of the state for another six months from February 27 under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), as per news agency PTI. The current direction is an extension of a similar announcement on August 28 in 2020 when the state was declared a ‘disturbed area’ for six months. It has been extended just ahead of the polls due in April-May.
In the official release, it is said, “As per powers conferred under section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, the Governor of Assam has declared the entire state of Assam as ‘disturbed area’ up to 6 (six) months beyond 27/02/2021, unless withdrawn earlier”.
However, there is no reason given for the extension, but the move comes in wake of the assembly elections due in April-May, and recovery of arms and ammunitions from some parts of the state. As per the Hindustan Times report, around 1,040 militants belonging to five different rebel outfits from the Karbi Anglong region had surrendered arms recently in the presence of chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal.
The controversial act has been imposed in Assam in November since 1990 and gets extended every six months only after a review by the state government.
Among the northeastern states, the AFSPA is in force in Assam, Nagaland, Manipur (excluding Imphal Municipal Council Area), Changlang, Longding, and Tirap districts of Arunachal Pradesh. Also, areas falling within the jurisdiction of the eight police stations of districts in Arunachal Pradesh bordering Assam are also covered under the act.
However, civil society groups and rights activists have been demanding the withdrawal of the alleged ‘draconian’ law from the northeastern states.