Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has been extended in Assam for another six months. The extension of the act comes in contrast to the promises of good days and change which the state government made when it came to power. The CM of Assam, Sarbananda Sonowal, also in charge of the Home Department of the state, was the one to promise Assam of changes and good days. However, the inability of the CM to free the people of Assam from the act even after 4 years of rule in the state proves his inefficiency.
The state has been declared a “disturbed area” on the account of recent insurgent attacks on security forces in the Northeast and recovery of illegal arms and ammunition from different areas of Assam, an official statement said. The mysterious fact has been the recovery of arms from areas of Bodoland. Even after the NDFB peace treaty which brought them to the frontline, weapons are being recovered from various places of BTR.
There have been a lot of instances of recent insurgency attacks as well. In the month of July, a team of Indian Army, Assam Rifles, and Arunachal Police neutralized six active cadres of NSCN(IM) near Nginu in Longding District of Arunachal Pradesh.
In May, Security forces busted a recruitment module of the Kamtapur Liberation Organization(KLO), a militant group, and apprehended seven cadres from a forest in Assam.
In April, Five ULFA(Independent) militants have been arrested and a huge cache of arms and ammunition seized from their possession in Assam’s Charaideo district.
In February, Assam CM Sarbananda appealed to ULFA(Independent) chief Paresh Baruah to join the peace talks with the government. Sonowal declared that the coalition of BJP, AGP, and BPF will also continue. The CM sought support from all sections of the society in establishing peace and hailed insurgency in Bodoland.
The coalition of BJP with BPF has been developing cracks in recent times. While the CM promised to continue the coalition, the party is seen to not be with the BPF in recent times and statements from BPF shows signs of the clash between them. The state BJP has been maintaining a soft approach towards both BPF and United People’s Party Liberal in BTC and is likely to form council government with the party that will get more numbers which means BJP can be with UPPL in the upcoming elections. This type of instability and inability to maintain the words spoken by him, CM proved his political policy of inconsistency in terms of political agenda. This can be a setback for his party with variation in actions.
The Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) elections were to be held on 4th April 2020 but due to the pandemic, the elections were postponed and the new schedule is yet to be declared. But in recent times, a new scenario is seen in the Bodoland area. Three major cases of arm hauls were in the area in 5 days. On the night of 13th August in Udalguri district, the first major recovery was made.
According to Guwahati Police Commissioner, a huge cache of arms, ammunition, and explosives were recovered which was buried underground in Jungle areas. It is suspected that the consignment belongs to militant outfit National Democratic Front of Bodoland(NDFB) while investigations are underway.
The second major haul of arms, ammunition, and explosives were made on 16th August. Two major consignments were recovered buried underground, one in jungle areas in Gossaigaon bordering West Bengal and the other in Serfanguri area.
The third major arms haul was made in Chirang district on August 18.
The three major recoveries had several factors in common. It was source-based information which led to the recoveries that too buried underground. No arrest has been made while investigations are underway. The Bodoland area has been a major site of militancy since long and hence to bring peace in the area, the recent peace accord was signed. But CM’s efforts of establishing peace in the area have been an unsuccessful one. He sought people to establish peace in the area while he himself is incapable handling militancy and bringing peace to the region. His words were loud enough to provide comfort to the people of the zone while his actions are being questioned from various angles of inconsistency in his part in various times.
Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958 is an act of the Parliament of India that grant special powers to the Indian Armed Forces the power to maintain public order in “disturbed areas”. The Act came into force in the context of increasing violence in the North-eastern States decades ago, which the State governments found difficult to control. The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Bill was passed by both the Houses of Parliament and it was approved by the President on September 11, 1958. It became known as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958. They have the authority to prohibit a gathering of five or more persons in an area, can use force, or even open fire after giving due warning if they feel a person is in contravention of the law. If reasonable suspicion exists, the army can also arrest a person without a warrant; enter or search a premises without a warrant; and ban the possession of firearms.
A disturbed area is one which is declared by notification under Section 3 of the AFSPA. An area can be disturbed due to differences or disputes between members of different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities. The Central Government or the Governor of the State or administrator of the Union Territory can declare the whole or part of the State or Union Territory as a disturbed area.