The controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act or AFSPA, which has been in force in Assam since 1990 is set to continue for another six months. The Centre expressed concerns over the 20-km wide belt in Meghalaya bordering the State and described it as a ‘disturbed area’.
Why AFSPA is being imposed again?
In a gazette notification, the Home Ministry said the law and order situation in Assam has continued to be a matter of concern due to the violent incidents by underground outfits and during January-September 2016, different militant groups were involved in 66 incidents of violence in Assam which resulted in killing of 29 people.
‘The militant outfits operating in the area continue to have been making constant efforts to regroup, re-strengthen and intensified their efforts for recruitment/infiltration of new cadres into the state and indulging in coercive extortion targeting businessmen, tea garden owners, contractors, commercial vehicles, timber smugglers, transporters and even government officials and politicians.’, the notification said.
The notification also singled out United National Liberation Front of Western South East Asia (UNLFW) for causing maximum unrest in the region through two of its constituents ULFA(I) and NDFB(S). The aforementioned are said to be responsible for 57 per cent of the incidents of violence and 84 per cent of the deaths in the State.
‘United National Liberation Front of Western South East Asia (UNLFW) has been formed in April, 2015, and two of its constituents viz ULFA(I) and NDFB(S) have been desperately making efforts to perpetrate demonstrative acts of violence and during the current year they have been responsible for 57 per cent of the incidents of violence and 84 per cent of the deaths in the state,’ the notification, issued by Joint Secretary in the Home Ministry Satyendra Garg, said.
And to make matters worse the two insurgent groups have been causing havoc till most recently. NDFB(S) militants shot dead 14 civilians and injured 19 others in a busy local market on the outskirts of Kokrajhar town on August 5, 2016, while ULFA(I) cadres also shot dead two Hindi-speaking persons in Tinsukia district and orchestrated five and two IED explosions in Tinsukia and Charaideo districts, respectively, on August 12, 2016.
AFSPA in Assam
The Central Government had first imposed the draconian Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in Assam by declaring the entire state as ‘disturbed area’ on November 27, 1990 when insurgency led by ULFA was at its peak. The then Prafulla Kumar Mahanta-led AGP government was subsequently dismissed by the Centre and the President’s rule was imposed.