A Parliamentary panel on Home Affairs, headed by senior Congress leader P Chidambaram expressed dismay over the “divergent” view taken by the Centre and the Assam government over the continuance of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in the state.
Assam has been under AFSPA since 1990. While the Union Home Ministry claims that the security situation in Assam has improved, the Sarbananda Sonowal government has declared the entire state as a disturbed area.
“The committee is unable to comprehend the divergent perceptions of the situation in Assam. On the one hand, the ministry has asserted that there has been an improvement in the security situation in Assam and, on the other hand, the area declared as disturbed under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, has been increased,” the report stated.
It added, “the state government of Assam has notified the whole State as disturbed area on the plea that it is not the appropriate time to reduce the area under AFSPA. This is a paradoxical situation that needs to be resolved.”
The Home Ministry, on behalf of the Central government, stated in its response that despite improvement in the security situation in Assam, “the State Government is of the view that Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 is to continue in the entire State for some more time.”
The panel, however, did not take up the recent protest in Assam and other States of North East over the Citizenship Amendment Bill.
In the 219th report on action taken by the government on the recommendation of the committee tabled before Parliament this week, the Parliamentary panel also expressed serious “concern over the abysmally low number of Bru families repatriated to Mizoram”. In July last year, the government signed an agreement with the Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Association (MBDPA), and the governments of Mizoram and Tripura to repatriate over 5,000 families staying in Tripura.
The committee noted, “As against the targeted 5,407 families, only 48 families (less than 1 per cent), could be repatriated to the State of Mizoram. The Committee expresses its anguish over the fact that the ministry has not provided any comment on its recommendation regarding reviewing the poor living conditions in the six relief camps where Brus have been residing after their exodus from the State.”
Noting the decline of insurgency-related incidents in Northeast, the committee conveyed its concerns over the large number of victims, who were kidnapped or abducted in Assam before and during 2016 and are yet to be found. “Even more worrisome is the fact that a large majority, more than 81 per cent, of victims are women. The committee is of the view that this may also point towards a connection between such abductions and human trafficking. The committee, therefore, recommends that an inter-state investigation may be carried out to find out the reasons for this extremely high rate of kidnappings of women,” the report stated.