NEW DELHI, May 17 - The reported move of the Assam government to withdraw the dreaded Armed Forces (Special) Powers Act (AFSPA) from the State has led Congress leader and former Union Home Minister P Chidambaram to question the rationale behind the government’s decision.
A national daily has reported that the AFSPA is likely to be withdrawn in August and the Centre has asked the Army to plan its withdrawal.
On Friday, Chidambaram tweeted: “BJP criticised the Congress manifesto promise to review AFSPA. Now, Modi government is planning to withdraw AFSPA totally from Assam! During the campaign, Modi never answered the question why AFSPA was withdrawn from Tripura, Meghalaya and parts of Arunachal Pradesh.”
Chidambaram accused the government of “sleeping on the job for five years”. “Modi government is counting the number of posts that are lying vacant in the Central government! Thanks to the Congress manifesto promising to fill up 4 lakh vacancies by March 31, 2020.”
The Congress manifesto promised to amend the AFSPA “to remove immunity from enforced disappearance, sexual violence and torture”.
Sources in the MHA, however, said that it is yet to be formally informed of the Assam government’s decision, pointing out that the authority to continue or revoke the Act has been delegated to the State government.
The State government extended the Act twice, citing the ongoing National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise. The Assam government had decided to extend the term of the AFSPA for another six months with effect from September 1.
Though there had been no untoward incident in any part of the State following the publication of the final draft of the NRC, the government was not keen on taking any chance till the process was completed. The situation would be reviewed once again before the expiry of this extended term.
The government had earlier considered withdrawal of the Act selectively from some peaceful areas of the State, but then decided against it, at least till the process of updating the NRC was completed.