Guwahati: Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday said that the state the government is planning to withdraw Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) completely from Assam by 2023.
Taking to Twitter, the official account of Sarma wrote, “We are aiming at withdrawing AFSPA completely from Assam by the end of 2023. We will also rope in ex-military personnel to train our police force.”
Addressing a commandants’ conference of the Assam Police battalions at Dergaon in eastern Assam’s Golaghat districts, Sarma said the state government would rope in former army men to train its police personnel in order to maintain law and order in more professional way after the AFSPA is withdrawn.
Chief minister Sarma said that considering the important role played by the commandants and the Assam Police Battalions, the commandants; the conference will be organised every six months.
However, this will be done to bring about positive changes in the rank and file of the battalions and give a more result-oriented police force to the state, he stated.
In November 1990, Assam was declared as a ‘disturbed area’ under the AFSPA. Since then, it has been extended every six months.
In March this year, the Central government had reduced the AFSPA in three northeastern states including Nagaland, Manipur, and Assam with effect from April 1, 2023.
At present, eight districts of Assam are under the disturbed areas notification which include Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Charaideo, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao.
The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 grants special powers to the security forces to conduct operations anywhere and to arrest anyone without any prior warrant. The law has been in force in the three states — Assam, Nagaland, and Manipur — for decades and has been opposed by civil society and rights activists claiming human rights violation by the security forces.
Meanwhile, Sarma also observed that training plays an important role and therefore in shaping the professionalism and readiness of the police personnel, retired army officers will be appointed in the rank of Additional Superintendent of Police to impart training.
He also said that attention will be given to ensure that the personnel belonging to different battalions are not used for any purpose other than those exclusively connected to bonafide policing.
The Chief Minister said that steps will be taken to ensure that there is a positive change in the mindset of the forces of the battalions to make them feel that Commandants and forces belonging to different battalions are an integral part of the Police Forces in Assam.