The Ministry of Home Affairs has put on hold its notification issued three days ago that enabled Assam Rifles personnel to arrest anyone and search a place without a warrant in five northeastern states. The notification will be revisited in consultation with the state government concerned, according to MHA officials.
According to a Home Ministry notification issued on February 19, 2018, “an officer of the rank corresponding to that of the lowest rank of members of the Assam Rifles” had been given these powers under the Code of Criminal Procedure in northeastern states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram.
“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 further said.
Talking to The Indian Express, an MHA official said 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 finalized in 2018. This will require giving suitable powers to BGF under the Foreigners Act, 1946 and Passport Act, 1967 and Passport Entry into India Act, 1920,” the official said
The powers under the Criminal procedure Code were available to Assam Rifles under the Assam Rifles Act, 1941. However, after the coming of the new Assam Rifles Act 2006, the issue of re-conferring these powers has remained under consideration since then, the MHA official added.
The Assam Rifles is the leading counter-insurgency force in the Northeast. It also guards the sensitive India-Myanmar border.