Shillong: The Centre's decision to repeal AFSPA from Meghalaya was on Tuesday unanimously welcomed by political parties, students' organisations and church leaders of the state.
Meghalaya home minister James K Sangma said he was grateful to the Union government for considering the state's request of revoking The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act from the state.
"We are thankful to the Centre for responding to the Meghalaya government's request for denotification of AFSPA in the Garo Hills areas, adjoining Assam," he told PTI, adding militancy has been "by and large contained" in the state and this was made possible by the Meghalaya police.
A home ministry official had on Monday said the Centre has revoked AFSPA, which empowers security forces to conduct operations and arrest individuals without prior notice, from the entire state of Meghalaya and parts of Arunachal Pradesh, with effect from 31 March.
Lauding the Centre's move, the Congress credited the erstwhile Mukul Sangma-led government for it.
"The imposition of AFSPA had lots of demerits in a state like Meghalaya, as it has often been seen that language barrier led to atrocities here. This was the reason why former chief minister Mukul Sangma did not allow the army to take up operations in the Garo Hills," Congress spokesperson Zenith Sangma said.
He said Mukul Sangma focused on raising Special Force-10, the state's own anti-insurgency force, to bring peace in the state.
Meghalaya is the first state to have its own anti-insurgency force, the Congress spokesperson said.
The North East Students Organisation (NESO) demanded revocation of the "controversial law" from the other states of the region.
"The NESO welcomes the decision of Ministry of Home Affairs to revoke AFSPA from Meghalaya. In fact, we want the act to be removed from all northeastern states where it is in force at the moment," its chairman Samuel B Jyrwa told PTI.
The act has only given undue authority to the armed forces to "torture and kill people at will", he said.
"AFSPA failed miserably in containing militant activities. It has only led to human rights violations by the armed forces," Jyrwa alleged, adding even after 27 years of the imposition of the act in Meghalaya, it did not have any positive impact on the law and order situation.
Echoing similar sentiments, former church leader PBM Basaiawmoit said the people of North East can rejoice together once the act is repealed from other states in the region.
"People will be happy if the draconian law is totally removed from India's statute books. No one will be considered as the enemy of the state," he said.
Updated Date: Apr 24, 2018 21:43 PM