MHA keeps in abeyance notification on Assam Rifles

MHA keeps in abeyance notification on Assam Rifles

 Indian soldiers stand at a wreath ceremony in which US Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates placed a wreath at the India Gate Memorial in New Delhi, India. The soldiers are from the Assam Regiment as can be seen from the shoulder badge of the leading soldier. February 2008. Credit: Defense Dept. photo by US Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jerry Morrison.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has kept in abeyance the operationalisation of a notification that gives Assam Rifles powers of arrest within three days of its issuance, saying it needed further consultation.

A gazette notification was issued on Tuesday giving Assam Rifles, a paramilitary force, powers to seize, search and arrest people under Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) in border districts of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram.

However, officials said, it has now been decided to keep the notification in abeyance and the issue be revisited in consultation with the state governments concerned.

The haste with which the MHA decided not to go ahead with the notification comes after a reading that it could create further trouble in the north-east where Assam Rifles is mostly deployed and it could have an adverse affect on the ruling BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Already, the north-eastern states are simmering with protests following the government's attempt to pass the Citizenship Amendment Bill.

Sources said it appeared that the notification was issued without applying much mind but later reality dawned up later about its possible implications. There were no proper consultations with the states and its implementation could have created further trouble, they said.

The 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", it said.