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Nagaland government decides to hold special assembly session on AFSPA repeal

Nagaland Legislative Assembly Complex

Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio says the unfortunate December 4 incident at Oting Village, Mon, was a clear case of “misuse and abuse” of the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA). Former chief minister TR Zeliang says “No amount of reasons can justify the killings of the innocents”

By Imna Longchar, TFM Nagaland Correspondent

Nagaland government has decided to hold a special assembly session in order to discuss and pass a resolution on repealing the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) 1958 from the State.

Minister for Planning, and Spokesperson, Nagaland Neiba Kronu on Thursday informed that the special assembly which is likely to be convened on December 20 would also discuss on the Naga political issue.

Nagaland Chief Minister, Neiphiu Rio on Thursday categorically said that the unfortunate December 4 incident at Oting Village, Mon, was a clear case of “misuse and abuse” of the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) 1958 which is a law having “colonial genesis” and is “violative” to human rights.

Speaking at the “In Memoriam”, a tribute programme held at the Capital Cultural Hall, Kohima, for the 14 innocent Konyak Naga coal miners who were killed by the Indian security forces on December 4 and 5 in Mon district suspecting them to be of cadres belonging to underground outfits, Rio stated that the same AFSPA legitimizes killing on mere suspicion and highlighted that that the incident was not the first time where civilians have to bear the brunt of the “draconian law”.

Informing that Nagaland and the Nagas have always opposed the Act for decades and is a demand which would continue and advocate for, Rio said the Konyak brethrens are the “fiercest and bravest” among all Nagas.

“Your land is the land of Anghs, I understand your anger and sadness, I know that you can retaliate in violence but I appeal to you not to retaliate violently not because you cannot but because you will not, not because you are weak but because your strong, not because you are cowardly but because you are courages”, Rio added.

Also stating that this is the time for the Konyaks defeat “violence” with “non-violence”, he mentioned that it is the time for the biggest Naga tribe to show to the world that they also have the “biggest heart”.

Quoting a Native American proverb “It is no longer good enough to cry peace, we must act peace, and live in peace”, Rio urged all the Nagas to shun the ways of violence while also appealing to all the political groups to bid “farewell” to arms.

“Unless we show and prove ourselves that we are peace loving and non-violent people, our demand to repeal AFSPA will carry less weightage. Let us say that we do not want AFSPA but let us also make sure that we do not in any way allow any force to derail the hard earned peace process”, he said.

Mentioning that Nagas have suffered violence “generation after generations”, Rio also said that “today we say enough is enough” and echoed that he stands with the people’s voice that “enough is enough”.

He hoped that the rest of the Country and the world would not only understand Nagas’ history but also feel the “pulse” of wanting a lasting peace and further prayed that during this tough time, the light of the Christmas that Christ has brought would continue to shine in Nagaland.

Rio later extended gratitude to the families of the 14 deceased Konyak brethrens, ENPO, KU, KSU, KNSK, ENSF, and the Konyak people as a whole for displaying “maturity and magnanimity” in the present crisis situation.

Earlier, the programme chaired by Senior Pastor, Ao Baptist Church, Kohima, Rev. Sentisashi Aier, started with an invocation prayer by NBCC secretary, Zelhou Keyho, a short speech was delivered by President, Konyak Union, Kohima, H. Angnyei Konyak, while vote of thanks was proposed by Nagaland Deputy Chief Minister, Y Patton. Two minutes silence was also observed in memory of the departed souls.

No amount of reasons can justify the killings of the innocents: TR Zeliang

Former Nagaland Chief Minister and leader of NPFLP, TR Zeliang, while speaking at the “In Memoriam” tribute programme said that no amount of reason could justify the killings of innocent civilians for which he urged upon the State government to leave no stone unturned in bringing the “perpetrators” of the heinous crime before the law and bring justice to the victims.

He said at a time when the Naga people were anticipating for a final “breakthrough” to the protracted Indo-Naga issue, the unfortunate incident has come as a huge shock to all.

Stating that the AFSPA has brought nothing good to the Nation and its citizens ever since its inception in the year 1958 other than “pain and suffering” which has disintegrated the nation farther, Zeliang therefore said that it was high time for the top leaders of the country to identify all the all the “black laws” in Indian history and repeal such unwanted Acts immediately in order to prevent all kinds of inhuman atrocities meted out to each citizens of such “black law”.

He shared that he understand that almost every year, the state government has been writing to the Ministry of Home Affairs against the application of the AFSPA in Nagaland, however, he lamented that the Centre continues to extend the Act every passing year despite having ceasefire agreement between the Government of India (GoI) and NSCN (IM) since 1997 followed by signing of “framework agreement” on August 3, 2015, and also signing of the “Agreed Position” between the seven NNPGs and the government of India on November 17, 2017.

Zeliang further said he strongly felt it is high time for the entire Northeast region to come together and fight for their rights.

He also said that the request made by some Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to summon a special assembly session was valid and should be considered by the government.

The NPFLP leader further conveyed condolences to the bereaved family members of the 14 departed souls.

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