Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has exuded confidence that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) would “completely disappear” from the state in the coming days.
Unveiling a statue of medieval-era Ahom army commander Lachit Borphukan and a Swahid Smarak at Bir Lachit Borphukan Park on the premises of Narangi Military Station here on Monday, the chief minister also lauded the role of the Indian Army in bringing peace to the once strife-torn state.
“The Indian Army has made immense sacrifices for more than 40 years with the aim of bringing normalcy back to the state,” Sarma stated, adding the people of Assam shall remain forever indebted towards the armed forces.
“I am confident that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act shall disappear completely from the state in days to come, as normalcy finally returns to the state,” he said.
Notably, AFSPA is currently in force only in four districts of the state – Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Sivasagar and Charaideo districts as the Act, along with the Disturbed Areas Act, have been withdrawn from the rest of the state.
Last month, the chief minister had met Union home minister Amit Shah at his residence in New Delhi to discuss the roadmap for complete withdrawal of AFSPA from Assam by the end of this year in view of the “improved law and order situation in the state”.
It may be recalled that AFSPA was imposed in Assam in November 1990 and has been extended every six months since then after a review of the situation by the state government.
The Act allows security forces to conduct operations anywhere and arrest anyone without any prior warrant. It also gives a certain level of immunity to the security forces in case of an operation going wrong.
The two imposing structures – the statue of Lachit Borphukan and a Swahid Smarak – have been funded by the Assam government and were conceptualised by Major General (Retd.) R.K. Jha, former General Officer Commanding of 51 Sub Area of the Indian Army in Narangi.
During the statue unveiling event at the Narangi Military Station here, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was also signed between the Assam government and the Indian Army for upskilling ex-servicemen and their dependents.
Referring to the MoU, Sarma exuded confidence that the upskilling of ex-servicemen and their dependents would help them immensely in gaining remunerative employment and self-employment.
Speaking at the event, Sarma termed the unveiling of the statue of Lachit Borphukan inside the Narangi Military Station a major milestone in the current dispensation’s relentless attempts at spreading the valorous saga of the medieval-era Ahom army commander across the nook and corner of the country.
The chief minister said the statue of Lachit Borphukan and the Swahid Smarak, built to keep alive the memories of the supreme sacrifices of the country’s brave soldiers, would inspire a sense of deep patriotism among the visitors to the park where they have been installed.
Stating that this is the first time a statue of Lachit Borphukan has been installed at a military station, Sarma extended his gratitude to the Indian Army’s Eastern Command and its General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Lt. General Rana Pratap Kalita for the noble initiative which, he said, would go a long way in further strengthening of the military-civilian administration ties in the state.
Referring to Lachit Borphukan as a military commander and strategist par excellence, the chief minister said it is important and necessary that the valorous saga of a personality such as the medieval-era Ahom commander doesn’t remain confined within the perimeters of the state alone.
Speaking about the brilliant military exploits of Lachit Borphukan that thwarted the Mughals’ expansionist designs for Assam, he said the state government has been taking numerous steps aimed at providing Lachit a status similar to that of Shivaji Maharaj and Maharana Pratap in the nationalist discourse.
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“One such attempt is the ongoing translations to all major regional languages of the country the book, ‘Assam’s Braveheart Lachit Borphukan,’ authored by Arup Kumar Dutta. Once the translation works are over, the state government shall take the initiative to distribute them across the libraries of the colleges in the country,” the chief minister said.
“Further, a 150-feet-tall statue of Lachit Borphukan shall be installed at Hollongapar in Jorhat in February next year,” he said.
“A mega drama on the life of Lachit Borphukan, in line with ‘Janta Raja’ based on the life of Shivaji Maharaj, is also being conceptualised,” he added.
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