The MHA said Paresh Baruah is one of the primary reasons for renewal of the 'Disturbed area' tag, which had expired on November 3. The other reason given by MHA to justify the renewal is the Karbi People's Liberation Tigers (KPLT), which operates in the Sixth Schedule tribal hill district of Karbi Anglong.
State home secretary G D Tripathi said, "We were contemplating lifting the 'Disturbed Area' tag from the state, but the strategic group recommended the continuation of the same. This is more of a preventive measure."
The state was declared a 'Disturbed Area' on November 27, 1990 for the first time by the Centre under the provision of Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 and it has been renewed every year since then.
Apart from the Paresh Baruah faction and the KPLT, all militant groups have entered the peace process, including the pro-talk faction of Ulfa led by Arabinda Rajkhowa. The two factions of Dima Halam Daogah signed a peace agreement recently while the Bodo Liberation Tiger (BLT) was disbanded a decade back. The five Adivasi outfits too joined the mainstream after laying down arms last year. The remaining faction of the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) led by Ranjan Daimary is also engaged in informal talks with the Centre through its interlocutor P C Haldar.
The disturbed area tag for Assam was renewed despite the drastic fall in militant activities with rebel groups joining the peace process. While sections of the security agencies described the Centre's order as unjustified as the situation in the state has greatly improved, the state government supported the Centre's decision to enforce the AFSPA.
"The situation in Meghalaya is worse than it is in Assam. The Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) is active in the state, but the act is not there in Meghalaya," a security source said.
Apart from the state, the 'Disturbed Area' also includes areas that fall within a 20-km belt in Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya along their border with Assam.
"The act provides special powers to the army and gives it a freehand while carrying out counter-insurgency operations. Keeping the act also enables the state government to remain dependent on the army in tackling militancy," the source added.