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Centre puts move on hold, to consult states

NEW DELHI: The Centre decided on Friday to keep in abeyance the special powers given to the Assam Rifles to arrest anyone and search a place without warrant in the Northeastern states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram, officials said.
The North East Students’ Organisation (NESO), meanwhile, had termed the Centre’s decision as downright tyranny on the indigenous people of the North East.
The Home ministry will now revisit the issue with the concerned state governments, which apparently opposed the move to give sweeping powers to the paramilitary force. It has been decided that the enabling notifications issued on February 19, giving powers to Assam Rifles be kept in abeyance and the entire matter be revisited in consultation with the state governments concerned, a home ministry official said.
While giving the powers to the Assam Rifles, a Home Ministry notification had said: “An officer of the rank corresponding to that of the lowest rank of members of the Assam Rifles” has been given these powers under the Code of Criminal Procedure. Assam Rifles personnel will exercise these powers and discharge their duties “under sub-section(1) of section 41, sections 47, 48, 49, 51, 53, 54, 149, 150, 151 and 152 of the CrPC within the local limits of the area comprised within the border districts of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram”, the notification had said.
Officials said on Friday that powers under CrPC were available to the Assam Rifles under the Assam Rifles Act, 1941. However, after coming into operation of the new Assam Rifles Act 2006, the issue of re-conferring these powers has remained under consideration since then.
Recently, the issue has acquired urgency for effective enforcement of 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 last year.
This will require giving suitable powers to border guarding forces, including Assam Rifles, under the Foreigners Act, 1946 and Passport Act, 1967 and Passport Entry into India Act, 1920.
The Assam Rifles is the leading counter-insurgency force in the Northeast. It also guards the sensitive India-Myanmar border. The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, which is operational in some parts of the Northeast, also gives similar powers to the Army operating in the region.
Tyrannical decision
NESO termed the Centre’s decision as downright tyranny on the indigenous people of the North East.
In a statement, it termed the decision as “unprovoked move by the GOI” and called upon all the indigenous people to be united, alert and to rise to the occasion in the event of any eventuality.
Terming it as “unwarranted action” and “state-sponsored oppression’, NESO said the Centre’s decision reflected its attitude towards the indigenous people of the North East.
NESO asserted the intention in giving sweeping powers to the Assam Rifles was to suppress people’s opposition to the CAB.
“NESO wonders whether this move by the Central Government is in any way connected to the inability of the GOI to table the CAB in the just-concluded session of the Rajya Sabha due to the people’s movement, or to put in place the Assam Rifles personnel to oppress any people’s movement in the near future if the BJP brings back the CAB after the Lok Sabha election,” the NESO statement said.
The organisation further berated the Centre for coming up with the decision at a time when the demand to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) continues.
Youth body opposes imposition of Sec 41
The youth forum for Protection of Human Rights (YFPHR) has also condemned imposing of section 41 CrPC within the border districts of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram. (Agencies)

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