KOLKATA, NOVEMBER 1: Eastern Army Commander Lt General RP Kalita on Tuesday said that more and more areas currently covered by AFSPA will be de-notified as violence parameters come down to an acceptable level in those places.
Lt Gen Kalita, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Command, also said that there has been a considerable drop in violence in the last 9 months in the insurgency-affected areas of the Northeast, leading to AFSPA de-notification from certain areas.
The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) was withdrawn from several places in Nagaland, Assam and Manipur from April 1 this year.
“This has been possible only due to sacrifice that has been made by the Indian Armed Forces in ensuring that violence parameters are brought down to an acceptable level”, he said, speaking to media persons after a wreath-laying ceremony at Fort William on the 102nd Raising Day of the Eastern Command headquarters.
He said that peace and development are making their way to the once-troubled areas.
“The situation remains dynamic. As the violence parameters come down… more and more areas will find de-notification taking place”, he said, adding that this will also depend on the maintenance of law and order by the local police.
Any decision to withdraw the Special Act has to be taken by a State Government in consultation with the Centre, he said.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Monday that his Government is considering the option of facilitating AFSPA withdrawal from two more locations in the State.
Kalita maintained that the Eastern Command is continuously striving for capability enhancement.
“We are always ready to address any emerging situation, but the focus has always been to address it within the laid-down parameters, the laid-down border management mechanism, and without any escalation”, he said.
Kalita said that civil-military cooperation has helped accelerate infrastructure development in the Northeast, where India shares borders with 5 countries.
Noting that work to build infrastructure is being undertaken in the Northeastern States, he said such activities constitute two categories – some which are confidential in nature and other basic ones which can be used by all.
“As of now, we have reached a very good stage as far as synergy and civil-military fusion is concerned towards infrastructure development”, he said
Kalita said that various agencies are involved in infrastructure development in the Northeast.
“In addition to whatever the Ministry of Defence develops, we have the Ministry of Home Affairs because of the (presence of) border guarding forces, and the State Governments which come up with various projects and proposals”, he said.
Apart from these, infrastructure development in the Northeast is driven by the North Eastern Council (NEC), which is part of the DoNER (Development of North Eastern Region) Ministry, Kalita stated.
“Besides roads, we are developing airports, helipads as also logistic capability in various areas which are included as part of the overall capability development programme of the nation”, he said.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday, during his visit to Ladakh, formally launched 75 infrastructure projects, including bridges, roads and helipads, constructed by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) and spread across 6 States and 2 Union Territories.
Of the 75 projects, 18 are in Arunachal Pradesh and a few in Sikkim.
The Eastern Army Command is responsible for ensuring safety of India’s borders with 5 neighbouring countries, spanning over 8,000 kilometres, Kalita said.
India shares its borders with China, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar in the eastern theatre.
The Eastern Command headquarters was set up in Lucknow on November 1, 1920.
“Owing to operational commitments, the headquarters was then shifted to Barrackpore, Ranchi and Lucknow before its permanent settlement in Fort William, Kolkata, in the immediate wake of 1962 Sino-Indian war”, an official said.
At the solemn wreath-laying ceremony, the GOC-in-C paid tribute to all martyrs of the Eastern Command who laid down their lives for the safety of the nation.