Positive development on AFSPA in Assam, Nagaland soon: Sarma

GUWAHATI, 2 Jan: Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday said “some positive development” could be expected during the year with regard to the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act or the AFSPA in the state where militancy is on the wane.

Sarma, a senior BJP leader of the Northeast, said “certain positive development” regarding the Act will take place soon in neighbouring Nagaland, where too it is in force.

“With militancy on the wane, the army has virtually withdrawn from Assam, except from five-six districts, and when AFSPA comes up for renewal after four months, the state government will take a pragmatic decision,” he said.

“As far as the AFSPA is concerned, Assam will see some rationalizing in 2022. How and when we don’t know. But I am an optimistic man. We are looking at 2022 as a year of hope. There will be some positive moments regarding the Act,” Sarma told reporters here.

On the continuation of the AFSPA in Nagaland, he said the Centre has already formed a committee to look into the matter.

“The committee will submit its report in 45 days and I am hopeful there will be certain positive development,” he added.

The Centre had on 26 December constituted a high-level committee headed by a secretary rank officer to examine the possibility of lifting the controversial AFSPA from Nagaland, apparently to soothe the rising tension in the northeastern state over the killing of 14 civilians.

The committee was set up three days after union Home Minister Amit Shah held a meeting with Sarma and his Nagaland counterpart Neiphiu Rio.

The demand for repeal of the AFSPA from the Northeast came to the fore in December last year after 13 civilians were gunned down by the army in a botched anti-insurgency operation in Nagaland and another person was killed in subsequent violence. The demand was made to the Centre even by the chief ministers of Nagaland and Meghalaya.

The Act is in force in Manipur (excluding the Imphal Municipal Council area), in Changlang, Longding and Tirap districts of Arunachal Pradesh and areas falling within the jurisdiction of eight police stations of its districts bordering Assam, besides Nagaland and Assam. It was extended by six months in Nagaland by the Centre earlier this week. (PTI)