Soon after the Union Home Ministry granted powers to Assam Rifles to arrest and search without warrant in the states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram, the Centre on Friday rescinded the order following protests by the Northeastern states, officials said.
The directives on Assam Rifles had been issued without consulting the state governments, and that seems to have upset them, the officials said.
“The state governments on Friday lodged a strong protest with the Home Ministry on giving arbitrary powers to Assam Rifles and conveyed that it may lead to human rights violations and cause further unrest in the Northeastern states,” an official said.
The ministry said it would revisit the issue with the concerned state governments. It was decided that the enabling notifications issued on February 19, giving the powers to Assam Rifles, be kept in abeyance and the entire matter be revisited in consultation with the state governments concerned, a ministry official said.
Sources said that opposition parties moved an adjournment motion in the Assam Assembly against the order while there were protests in Manipur Assembly against the notifications.
On Friday, officials said that powers under CrPC had been available to Assam Rifles under the Assam Rifles Act, 1941. However, after the new Assam Rifles Act, 2006, came into effect, the issue of re-conferring these powers has remained under consideration. Recently, the issue acquired urgency for effective enforcement of Free Movement Regime on the Indo-Myanmar border (16-km belt on either side).
The Free Movement Regime was streamlined after the bilateral agreement between India and Myanmar on land border crossing was finalised last year. This will require giving suitable powers to border guarding forces, including Assam Rifles, under the Foreigners Act 1946, Passport Act 1967, and Passport Entry into India Act 1920.