Centre withdraws notification giving more powers to Assam Rifles in NE

Centre withdraws notification giving more powers to Assam Rifles in NE

Feb 22, 2019

A day after Assam Rifles personnel were empowered by the central government to arrest anyone and search a place without warrant in northeastern states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram, Centre has now withdrawn its decision to give sweeping powers to the Assam Rifles.

A report in India Today stated that sources informed that a "technical anomaly" in the notification, dated February 19, also prompted the government to put it on hold.

The idea was to give powers to the Assam Rifles on the lines of all border guarding forces. However, Assam does not share a border with Myanmar where insurgent groups operate.

At a time when there is a call to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), a decision to give unbridled powers to the force could lead to more trouble on the ground.

Intelligence reports also suggested the decision would backfire and stir trouble across the Northeast.

Home Ministry sources said it has been decided that the enabling notifications giving powers to the Assam Rifles will be revisited in consultation with the state governments concerned.

It was also felt that ahead of elections, if the order was implemented, it could have triggered a furore and worsened the situation on the ground.

"The Ministry of Home Affairs has decided to keep the notification giving powers under Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) to Assam Rifles in abeyance," said an official.

Assam Rifles is a force guarding the Myanmar border; it also carries out operations against insurgent groups. Of late, operations under the Naga insurgent group NSCN (K), which operates from camps across the border in Myanmar, have intensified.

Powers under CrPC were available to Assam Rifles under the Assam Rifles Act, 1941.

However, after the new Assam Rifles Act 2006 came into operation, the issue of re-conferring these powers has remained under consideration since then.

Recently, this issue acquired urgency for the effective enforcement of the Free Movement Regime on the Indo-Myanmar border (on the 16 km belt on either side).

The Free Movement Regime was streamlined after the bilateral agreement between India and Myanmar on Land Border Crossing was finalised in 2018.

This will require giving suitable powers to Border Guarding Forces under the Foreigners Act, 1946, the Passport Act, 1967, and the Passport Entry into India Act, 1920.

Source: Indiatoday.in

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