Conrad K Sangma said that after the NPP came to power in Meghalaya, the state government put pressure on the Centre to remove AFSPA from the state. “Based on all the work that was done by the central agencies, state agencies, state police, and with the support of the Centre, AFSPA was removed from the state within months. We need a will to move forward,” he maintained.
The renewed demand for the repeal of AFSPA in wake of the recent Oting massacre might become a key issue in the upcoming state general election of Manipur. During a youth conclave on Friday, Meghalaya chief minister and National People’s Party national president Conrad K Sangma, Manipur deputy chief minister Y Joykumar, and other leaders of the party’s state unit held a banner that read “Repeal AFSPA from the entire Northeast”.
“We, as a party, have always maintained that AFSPA has never been able to resolve the insurgency in our region (Northeast),” Sangma asserted at the youth conclave organised by the youth front of NPP at HVS, Patsoi.
Before Sangma took the stage, a one-minute silence was also observed in honour of the 14 civilians killed in the Oting massacre on December 4.
Stating that he has been campaigning since 2002 in Manipur, Sangma said, “I have always maintained that insurgency is a socio-economic problem. It is not a military problem.” Though the security aspect is also needed, it cannot be the solution, he added.
He also opined that insurgency in NE can only be resolved through socio-economic measures. “If you use force and other violence means, it will only make things worse,” he said, adding that force can be used as per humanitarian law, but not as if they are the “enemy of the nation”.
Although there are youths who strayed in the wrong way, they are still Indians, he said.
“By using AFSPA, though they are not our enemies, we are making them our enemies. This is not a war. This is a problem that the nation is facing,” he said and added that by using AFSPA we are making it a war.
Sangma, whose party is in alliance with the BJP at the Centre and Manipur, further said, “As a government, we need to realise that by using force we cannot achieve our goals.” Stating that AFSPA is not the way forward, he asserted that by using the Act, “we are damaging the youths; we are allowing different forces to manipulate our youths.”
Sangma also said that after the NPP came to power in Meghalaya, the state government put pressure on the Centre to remove AFSPA from the state. “Based on all the work that was done by the central agencies, state agencies, state police, and with the support of the Centre, AFSPA was removed from the state within months. We need a will to move forward,” he maintained.
There is no space for such “draconian” Acts, he said and added that the party will continue to fight for the repeal of AFSPA. This is our commitment, he added.
Maintaining that the 2022 Manipur Legislative Assembly election is very crucial, he said that Manipur can only move forward democratically.
Stating that the last week has been a difficult one, regarding the Oting massacre and death of CDS General Rawat in a helicopter crash, he pondered on how the region and the nation as a whole move forward.
Sangma also elaborated his views on the importance of involvement of youths in nation building. He warned that if the energy of the youths is not channelised properly, it might become a huge problem.
He also maintained that there should be a clear cut agenda on policies for youths, and draft a youth oriented manifesto.
On unemployment, he maintained that the youths need to become job providers with special emphasis on entrepreneurship. He also exhorted the youth to focus on the challenges posed by climate change, with the emphasis on the commitment to make India a carbon neutral country by 2070.