GUWAHATI: Days after the Centre reduced the areas under AFSPA in Assam, Manipur and Nagaland, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that the armed forces are in favour of the withdrawal of the Act from Jammu and Kashmir.
Speaking at the felicitation ceremony of 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War veterans here, Rajnath Singh said it is no small thing that for the last three-four years the work of removing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) was being done in northeastern states.
“The three wings of our defence forces want Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) to be removed from Jammu and Kashmir as soon as possible. The circumstances are responsible for the imposition of AFSPA in Jammu and Kashmir, not the Army,” Rajnath Singh said.
He said that AFSPA was removed from 15 police stations each in Manipur and Nagaland. “That in itself means a lot. This is the result of durable peace and stability in this area,” Rajnath Singh said. He said that AFSPA was recently completely removed from 23 districts of Assam. The minister said that people from all parts of the country had taken part in the 1971 war.
“We should take inspiration from the 1971 war, there were commanders from different castes, they belonged to different religions and all unitedly protected India. This social harmony of Assam should not be broken at any cost,” he said.
The minister said that the Narendra Modi government is “working to wipe out terrorism from the country” and the North East Region (NER) is moving fast on the path of development due to synergy between the Centre and the states.
Speaking about the eastern border, Rajnath Singh said that it is more peaceful and stable compared to the western frontier and noted that Bangladesh was a friendly neighbour. The Centre had last month removed AFPSA from 15 police station areas in seven districts of Nagaland, 15 police station areas in six districts of Manipur and 23 districts entirely and one district partially in Assam.
The AFSPA Act empowers the governor of the state or administrator of Union territory or Centre to issue an official notification concerning disturbed areas after which the central government has the authority to send in armed forces for civilian aid.