Army, cops want AFSPA to stay in Assam

Guwahati, Feb 28, 2020: The Indian army engaged in counter insurgency operations under unified command of security forces has stressed for the continuation of the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act (AFSPA) in Assam. However, the issue has not come up formally for considerations in the unified command or the state government, security sources said on Thursday.

Informing that the ministry of home affairs has given go-ahead for de-induction of the Army from Western Assam in phased manner, security sources said that the Army has already been de-inducted from law and order duty from Karbi Anglong.

Indicating that the Army would continue to operate under unified command in Upper Assam areas, mostly having the presence of Ulfa-I, security sources said that now the state government has to take a final call on AFSPA.

Asserting that paramilitary forces are now equally competent to handle the present state of insurgency in the state, security sources however admitted that army would like the continuation of AFSPA as long as they are stationed in the state.

Referring the surrender of three factions of National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), security sources said that the demand of separate state was relinquished by all the factions of Bodo. However, in view of the forthcoming elections of Bodoland Territorial Region in April, some incidents of violence and clashes have restarted, security sources said adding that another major area of concern would be the illegal arms that a section of NDFB cadres are suspected to have been hiding.

Informing that Western Assam was completely peaceful if factional and political clashes are not taken into account, security sources said that two districts of upper Assam are still witnessing insurgent activities led by anti-talk Ulfa which is also known as Ulfa (Independent).

Security sources said that Ulfa-I was also trying to recruit new cadres. They pointed out how a joint team of army and Assam Police rescued four minor recruits from captivity of Ulfa-I recruiter in Tinsukia district.

Speculation on removing the AFSPA had started with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remark about the undesirability of AFSPA during a rally in Kokrajhar on February 7. “After we came to power in 2014, AFSPA was removed from Tripura, Mizoram, Meghalaya and several parts of Arunachal Pradesh. Investors were not willing to invest in the region. Now industries are coming up. There was a fight over homeland. Now there is clamour for one strong India,” he had said.

However, there is a section of officers in Assam Police who advocated continuation AFSPA. A senior police officers said, “The AFSPA is necessary now. We need this to deal with some insurgent outfits. Taking advantage of the protest against CAA, anti-talk Ulfa faction has managed to attract fresh recruits.”

~ Asian Age
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