New Delhi: The controversial Afspa has been extended by six months in entire Assam and the 20km-wide belt in Meghalaya bordering the state with the Centre declaring that the "disturbed area" status, which has been in force since 1990, will continue.
In a gazette notification, the Home Ministry said the law and order situation in Assam has continued to be a matter of concern due to the violent incidents by underground outfits and during January-September 2016, different militant groups were involved in 66 incidents of violence in Assam which resulted in killing of 29 people.
"The militant outfits operating in the area continue to have been making constant efforts to regroup, re-strengthen and intensified their efforts for recruitment/infiltration of new cadres into the state and indulging in coercive extortion targeting businessmen, tea garden owners, contractors, commercial vehicles, timber smugglers, transporters and even government officials and politicians.
"United National Liberation Front of Western South East Asia (UNLFW) has been formed in April, 2015, and two of its constituents viz ULFA(I) and NDFB(S) have been desperately making efforts to perpetrate demonstrative acts of violence and during the current year they have been responsible for 57 per cent of the incidents of violence and 84 per cent of the deaths in the state," the notification, issued by Joint Secretary in the Home Ministry Satyendra Garg, said.
NDFB(S) militants shot dead 14 civilians and injured 19 others in a busy local market on the outskirts of Kokrajhar town on 5 August, 2016, while ULFA(I) cadres also shot dead two Hindi-speaking persons in Tinsukia district and orchestrated five and two IED explosions in Tinsukia and Charaideo districts, respectively, on 12 August, 2016.
"Now, therefore, the entire state of Assam and the 20 kms wide belt in the State of Meghalaya bordering Assam shall continue to be 'disturbed area' under Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 up to six months beyond 3 November, 2016, unless withdrawn earlier," it said.
The central government had first imposed the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act — Afspa — in Assam by declaring the entire state as "disturbed area" on 27 November, 1990 when insurgency led by ULFA was at its peak.
The then Prafulla Kumar Mahanta-led AGP government was subsequently dismissed by the Centre and the President's rule was imposed.
The Home Ministry's gazette notification said ULFA(I) is coordinating joint action with other underground outfits, including NSCN(K) and KYKL, along Arunachal Pradesh-Myanmar border and with GNLA and HNLC along Meghalaya-Bangladesh border also providing training to cadres of KPLT/UPLA in its camps in Myanmar.
The Karbi militant outfits viz. UPLA, UKPLA and various factions of KPLT have been actively involved in extortions and abductions for ransom in the hill districts of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao; and the hilly and densely forested border areas of Assam provide an apt location for camps/shelters/ hideouts to ULFA(I), NDFB(S), NSCN(IM), NSCN(K), GNLA KPLT and several Meitei underground outfits and cadres of these outfits take advantage of crossing over to neighbouring states in order to evade security forces actions, it said.