Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday said his government is considering withdrawing AFSPA from two more locations in the state. The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) was extended for six months from October 1 with the continuation of the 'Disturbed Area' tag for Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Charaideo, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao districts along with Lakhipur sub-division of Cachar in the Barak valley.
The government had withdrawn the controversial law from West Karbi Anglong district as the situation "considerably improved" there. The Armed Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 empowers security forces to conduct operations and arrest anyone without any prior warrant besides giving immunity from arrest and prosecution to the security forces if they shoot someone dead.
"Peace has returned to Assam and Northeast. Today, AFSPA is withdrawn from 65 per cent areas of the state. In the future, we are considering to withdraw it from Lakhipur of Cachar and the entire Karbi Anglong district," Sarma said. Following the withdrawal of two more areas from the ambit of the AFSPA, only six districts in Upper Assam will remain under the law's purview, he added.
Speaking at a function to offer financial support to surrendered militants for their rehabilitation, Sarma stated that the 'Disturbed Area' tag under the AFSPA has also been removed from different areas of Tripura, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur. "Assam has seen a lot of bloodshed. It is our duty to stop it and develop our state. We are planning to launch a big scheme to offer employment opportunities to the unemployed youths of the state," he added.
The Chief Minister handed over demand drafts to 318 former militants, who had laid down arms in the past, in presence of the state DGP and other senior officials of Assam Police, Army and paramilitary forces. A one-time grant of Rs 1.5 lakh each was offered to the surrendered cadres of United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent), United Gorkha People's Organisation (UGPO), Tiwa Liberation Army (TLA), Kuki Liberation Front (KLF), Dimasa National Liberation Army (DNLA) and Kuki National Liberation Army (KNLA).
"In the last one-and-half years of our government, all militant organisations, except the ULFA(I), in Assam have returned to the mainstream. I again appeal to the ULFA(I) chief Paresh Barua to take the society forward by peace and not by bloodshed," Sarma said. He told the gathering that over 6,780 cadres of various groups have laid down their arms since he assumed charge in May last year.
(With PTI inputs)