Kolkata, March 27: With Prime Minister Narendra Modi initiating the 'Act East Policy', the government should review the imposition of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the northeast as it could be a barrier in connecting the region to the South-East neighbours, experts feel.
"If by our own definition the Northeast is a 'disturbed area' under AFSPA, then how can you ask everyone to look at east under the 'Act East' policy? How will you improve connectivity?" questions Sanjoy Hazarika, Director of the Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research, Jamia Millia Islamia university in New Delhi.
Earlier in the year, the central government had extended AFSPA for another year in the entire state of Assam and along a 20-km-long belt in Assam's border with Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya, he said in Kolkata recently at a conference on improving connectivity in Asia.
Northeast expert Hazarika, who was also a member of the Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee to Review AFSPA, said the conflicts in the region had decreased drastically over the last few years.
"The Indian government should see this as its success and restrict AFSPA. If you restrict the Disturbed Areas Act, you end up restricting AFSPA," he said.
In Manipur, civil rights activist Irom Sharmila has been on a fast-unto-death for the last 14 years demanding repeal of AFSPA in the region.