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Nagaland Legislative Assembly session demands immediate withdrawal of AFSPA 1958 from Northeast

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio speaking at 10th Session of the 13th NLA at Assembly Secretariat Kohima on Monday (DIPR Nagaland Photo)

Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) 1958 is not only against the constitution of the country but the very foundation of any democratic nation, NLA members argued.

By Imna Lonchar, TFM Nagaland Correspondent

Members of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly (NLA) cutting across party lines have demanded the Government of India to immediately withdraw the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) 1958 from the Northeast and specifically from the state of Nagaland.

The 10th Session of the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly was held on Monday at the Assembly Secretariat, Kohima. The resolution adopted at the special one day session said that the cry of the Naga people for peace and early solution of the long pending Naga political issue was of paramount necessity.

Stating that AFSPA was a hindrance to peace, the resolution condemned the massacre that took place at Oting-Tiru village area in Mon district on December 4 in the indiscriminate firing by the 21 Para Special Force of the Indian Army in which innocent people were killed followed by another innocent person killed on December 5 and injuring 35 persons by security forces at Mon town.

Demanding an apology from the appropriate authority for the massacre, the house also asked for an assurance that justice would be delivered.

NLA members unanimously condemns AFSPA’1958

Members of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly also unanimously condemned the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) 1958 is not only against the constitution of the country but the very foundation of any democratic nation.

Condemning AFSPA, the members said that the Act is not good for any civilized Nation except as a threat to unity of the country.

Minister Transport, Civil Aviation and Land Resources, Paiwang Konyak said the Act is creating more hatred against India.

NPF MLA, Imkong L Imchem opined that AFSPA was employed clandestinely to continue racial discrimination of the mainland India.

Stating that Oting massacre was a result of racist attitude of the armed forces, he said that it is an insult to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of inclusive development and progressing together.

Questioning the statement of the Union Home Minister, Amit Shah on the Oting incident, Imkong demanded for finding out as to who has misled the Home Minister.

NPF MLA, Chumben Murry joining in the discussion said a democratic Country like India should have realized the unjustifiability of such act. He said the Act is a violation of human Rights and the army has made a fool of themselves by killing innocent villagers under the influence of AFSPA.

NPF MLA Kuzholuzo Nienu described the Act as a separate law to suppress and demean the people of North East and Jammu and Kashmir. Calling the Act as a black law, he said the Oting killing has awakened the nation of its folly. Nienu demanded for court marshalling of the 21 Para Commandos involved in the killing.

Criticizing the misleading statement of the Union Home Minister, Amit Shah in the Parliament that the incident was a result of mistaken identity, Nienu said that the Oting massacre cannot be brushed aside as intelligence failure since India ranks 6th among the best in intelligence applied country in the world.

He therefore, urged the members of the Assembly for follow-up action till the removal of the Act is achieved.

According to an official bulletin, the NLA members observed two minutes silence in memory and honour of the fourteen (14) people killed on December 4 at Oting-Tiru village, Mon.

Initiating the discussions on the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Nagaland Deputy Chief Minister, Y Patton said that as per Section 3 of the AFSPA, 1958, the provisions of the said Act come into force in any area to which the Act extends, which gets declared as a “disturbed area” by the Central government or the Governor of that State, if in the opinion of either, the area in such a disturbed or dangerous condition that the use of armed forces in aide of the civil power is necessary.

He mentioned that the Government of India has been declaring the entire state of Nagaland as a “Disturbed Area” by issuing notifications every six months, and thereby keeping the provisions AFSPA, 1958, operative in the State for the past many decades.

The latest notification issued by the Government of India was on June 30 and which is operational till December 29 this year.

Patton also stated that the provisions of AFSPA, by its nature, scope and intent, gives undue and excessive powers to the security forces to take several coercive actions including search, seizure, arrest of suspected persons and use of firearms, even to the extent of causing death; for all the actions that may be taken by the personnel of the security forces, there is no great deal of immunity provided to them.

He pointed out that the power and immunity has led to many instances of gross abuse by the members of the security forces over the years, the most recent being the ghastly firing incident in Oting-Tizu village area of Mon district which led to the loss of the lives of 14 Konyak brothers.

When the session was opened, NLA Speaker, Sharingain Longkumer informed the House that the session was convened due to the killing of 14 civilians at Mon district by Indian Army on December 4 and 5. Terming the incident the worst in recent times, the speaker said it was a result of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) 1958 in force in the State.

Sharingain pointed out that ever since the declaration of Nagaland as a disturbed Area on March 29 March 1997 and enforcement of AFSPA in Nagaland, the State Government had been opposed to it. He said the provisions of the act are not only excessive but the immunity to armed forces is still worse.

The speaker further urged the members to collectively demand for removal of AFSPA from the State of Nagaland.

‘AFSPA is a license to kill’ says TR Zeliang

Leader of NPF Legisture Party (NPFLP), TR Zeliang said that Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) 1958 is a license to kill.

Stating this in the Assembly on Monday, he said the brutal killing of 14 innocent civilians in Mon district was a blatant violation of human rights of the highest degree.

Demanding strongly for immediate withdrawal and repeal of the Act by Government of India, Zeliang pointed out that the draconian Act could no longer be used in India as it was promulgated in 1942 by the British government to suppress the Indian citizens.

Further, he urged the investigating team to establish as to who or which intelligence agency provided inputs to the Indian Army in Assam to lay ambush on the vehicle carrying the unfortunate civilians and who mislead the Union Home Minister.

Expressing serious concern over the absence of a state Human Rights Commission in Nagaland, Zeliang urged the Speaker of the house to urgently initiate for constitution of the same during the tenure of the present assembly itself in the interest of the people of the state.

Meanwhile, commissioner and Secretary PJ Antony, reported the assent of the Governor of Nagaland to the three Bills that included Nagaland Appropriation (No.5) Bill, 2021, Nagaland Appropriation (No.6) Bill, 2021, and Nagaland Appropriation (No.7) Bill, 2021.

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