Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has announced that the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), 1958, will be entirely withdrawn from Assam by October this year, according to sources familiar with the matter. The decision was disclosed during a meeting in Guwahati with party members.
AFSPA, often criticized as a harsh and draconian law, is a Parliamentary act that grants special powers to the Indian armed forces and paramilitary forces, including the Indian Army and Assam Rifles, to maintain public order in “disturbed areas.” It also empowers security forces to take action in civilian areas based on mere suspicion.
Assam had already withdrawn AFSPA from nearly 70% of the state, and the new objective is to completely eliminate the act from the entire state. This development follows a recent meeting between Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi.
Although Assam was designated a “disturbed area” by a notification in 1990, AFSPA is currently in effect in only eight districts and one sub-division of another district in the state. These areas include Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Charaideo, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Karbi Anglong, and Dima Hasao districts.
The act was revoked from other parts of Assam on April 1, 2022, and since then, the state government has been diligently working toward its complete removal from the remaining areas.