Guwahati: Declaring the entire state as “a disturbed area”, the Assam government has issued a notification extending the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) for another six months as a precautionary measure to maintain order during the ongoing National Register of Citizens (NRC) update process. The final draft NRC is likely to be published by the end of the year. “As per powers conferred under Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, the Governor of Assam has declared the entire state of Assam as ‘disturbed area’ up to 6 months beyond August 28, 2018, unless withdrawn earlier,” the notification said. (Also read: Assam NRC Final Draft List Available)

A leading daily quoted Special director general (Assam Police) Pallab Bhattacharya as saying, “The situation is peaceful at the moment but we will not take a decision on withdrawing AFSPA until NRC exercise is over.”  Last year, the Centre had delegated Assam and Manipur the power to impose or withdraw AFSPA, which gives special powers to Army engaged in counter-insurgency operations.

Meanwhile, as many as 300 armed forces personnel have approached the Supreme Court with a plea challenging the FIRs registered against them in connection with military operations in the areas where the AFSPA is in force. The AFSPA has been enforced in parts of N-E and Kashmir.  A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice AM Khanwilkar considered the submissions of lawyer Aishwarya Bhati that Army personnel are being prosecuted for performing duties in disturbed areas. The plea said that such prosecutions lower the morale of the military and para-military forces. It must be noted that armed forces personnel are facing prosecution for alleged excesses and fake encounters in states like Manipur where AFSPA is in force. Prosecutions in some of those cases have been initiated following a direction from the apex court, especially in Manipur.