If everything goes as planned, it seems days are not far off when Assam will emerge as the country’s prime hub of trade and commerce facilitating an accelerated growth of the development-deficit but resource-rich State. The State government under the current proactive and dynamic Chief Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma, is considering to revoke the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) from more areas in Assam, which was considered to be one of the major hurdles on the way to its fast-track development.
This was of late stated by the Chief Minister Sarma. If the Army Act is withdrawn from more areas, it will certainly go a long way in ensuring a lasting peace in the insurgency-hit State, which is of utmost importance for setting the State’s fragile economy on a fastest track as it is resource-rich but fund-strapped. Arguably, over the past few years since the BJP-led government came to power, especially under the stewardship of the Chief Minister Sarma, the overall situation looked up qualitatively following the elusive peace reverting with the withdrawal of the Act from 65 per cent of the areas of the State.
The Army Act, incidentally, was extended for six months from October 1 with the continuation of the ‘Disturbed Area’ tag for Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Charaideo, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Karbi Angling and Dimasa Hasao districts along with Lakhipur sub-division of Cachar in the Barak valley. Remarkably, the government, however, had withdrawn the Act from West Karbi Anglong district as the situation “considerably improved” there. Sarma was of the view, ”Peace has returned to Assam and North East. Today, AFSPA is withdrawn from 65 per cent of areas of the State. In the future, we are considering withdrawing it from Lakhipur of Cachar and the entire Karbi Anglong district.” Following the withdrawal of two more areas from the ambit of the AFSPA, only six districts in Upper Assam will remain under the law’s purview”, he added. Sarma stated, the ‘Disturbed Area’ tag has also been removed from different areas of Tripura, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur. Withdrawing it was necessary to dispel fear perception from the psyche of outsiders, in particular, who have already invested or are willing to invest in these areas for greater interest of the State.
The Chief Minister handed over demand drafts to 318 former militants, who had laid down arms in the past in the presence of the State DGPA and other senior officials of Assam Police, Army and para-military forces. A one-time grant of Rs1.5 lakh each was offered to the surrendered cadres of a number of home-grown insurgent groups including the ULFA(I), DNLA, KNLA, TLA. All these welcome developments will certainly contribute immensely towards further improvement in the law and order situation in Assam. Peaceful atmosphere is all the more important for a rapid growth of economy.
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