Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma has a say on the debate

Himanta Biswa Sarma commented on AFSPA for the second time in a week. (file)

Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma today again said that the debate on the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 (AFSPA) will end soon and “good news” may come by March.

The Chief Minister said this while interacting with reporters in the industrial town of Duliajan.

He asked the independent faction of ULFA led by Paresh Barua not to call for boycott on Republic Day.

“AFSPA is attached to the army and the army is not functioning in large part of Assam in only five or six districts. So in large part, there is no Special Forces Act. Union Home Minister Amit Shah has given us some guidelines and We are working accordingly. The entire debate on the AFSPA Act will be over soon but a complete withdrawal may not be possible,” Mr. Sarma said.

Mr Sarma reviewed the law and order situation, crime situation in Duliajan for 18 hours with the Assam Superintendent of Police.

On January 1, the chief minister had said, “In 2022, we will see a positive movement on AFSPA, how and when I don’t know, but I am an optimist. We should have lasting peace in Assam.”

In August, the ‘disturbed area’ in Assam was extended for another six months, despite several formerly outlawed organizations in the state, except the independent faction of the ULFA, having given up arms.

Mr Sarma also said that he has suggested the Center to conclude talks with the pro-talk ULFA group before initiating talks with ULFA Independent. He expressed hope that ULFA cannot boycott this year’s Republic Day as it has extended its unilateral ceasefire twice.

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