Special powers to Assam Rifles: Oppn. walk out of Assam Assembly
Guwahati, Feb. 22 (PTI): The Congress and AIUDF on Friday walked out of Assam Assembly after their demands for an adjournment motion to discuss special powers granted to Assam Rifles were turned down by Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami.
While the state government expressed willingness to discuss the matter through other means, the Congress, AIUDF and AGP stood united in their demand to debate it only via adjournment motion.
Three separate adjournment motion were submitted by the Congress, AIUDF and AGP as they felt that the contentious notification giving special powers to Assam Rifles would “violate human rights and bring in military rule”.
On Thursday, a Ministry of Home Affairs notification empowered Assam Rifles personnel to arrest anyone and search any place without warrant in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram.
“It (special powers) will bring military rule and affect freedom of movement, which is given by the Constitution. It is like introducing undeclared emergency,” the Leader of the Opposition Debabrata Saikia said while arguing for the motion.
The senior Congress leader asked why the notification was issued when the BJP-led government has been claiming that peace prevails in North East.
“There is a report which says that out of 100 cases of Assam Rifles, human rights have been violated in 37. It empowers even the lowest rank officer to arrest a person without warrant. It will lead to complete violation of human rights,” he added.
AGP member Pabindra Deka, who moved the resolution on behalf of his party, said that it is a dangerous and shocking notification, which can “devastate” peoples’ lives in the region.
“It will violate our fundamental rights. It seems the Centre and Narendra Modi want us to take back to Assam Agitation period of murder and loot by forces. Because of unlimited power given to forces, 855 people were martyred then,” he added.
The Assam Agitation of 1979-1985 was a popular movement against illegal immigrants in Assam. The movement was aimed at urging the Centre to identify and expel illegal, (mostly Bangladeshi), immigrants and protect and provide constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards to the indigenous Assamese people.
Deka alleged that a conspiracy was being hatched to exploit the North East and doubted if the special power was being granted to the paramilitary force to counter the massive protests against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in recent months.
“It is against the interest of the people. Assam government has some duties to do in this regard and clear its position,” he said.
Advocating Deka’s motion, AIUDF MLA Aminul Islam said the people still look back at the emergency period with fear and hope that it never comes back.
“There are chances that this notification will be misused and applied to curb various human rights movement going on in the region. It can be used to put an end to the protest against Citizenship Bill or eliminate political opponents,” he added.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said the state government are ready to discuss the matter if brought under other means instead of an adjournment motion.
“After the Kashmir incident, Army and paramilitary forces have been given special powers. All parties, particularly the Congress, have said that they are with the government. A message should go from the House that we all are united against terrorism,” he added.
The senior BJP leader also said that the North East shares 4,800 km of international boundary and the terror attack on the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in Jammu and Kashmir showed that some forces are working to destabilize the integrity of India.
He also defended the police and security forces saying they cannot be made a subject of adjournment motion as they are engaged in maintaining law and order in the society.
Countering him, Saikia asked: “This notification does not include Kashmir, but North East only. Also, does it mean that law and order in the region has broken down and so special power has been given to paramilitary?”
Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami appreciated the government and the opposition as both sides were ready to discuss the matter in a positive way.
“As both sides want, I can allow a discussion. Also, we have two more days of this Budget Session. The primary objective of the adjournment motion is to draw attention of the government, so as to criticize it. But it is a decision taken by the Centre, not state. How can a state minister take responsibility when it is done by the Centre? So, I am disallowing the adjournment motion,” he added.
Goswami, however, said that was ready to allow a discussion on the topic if it was brought about by any other means as per the rule.
On this, the Congress and AIUDF members objected to the Speaker’s ruling and left the House in protest.
The AGP members, however, were not part of the walk out.