2-day public ‘March Against AFSPA’ in Nagaland highlights the long felt necessity of removing AFSPA from the state.
By Imna Longchar, TFM Nagaland Correspondent
Aftermath of the extension of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) 1958 for six months in Nagaland and in the backdrop of the December 4 and 5 Oting incidents, a demand for repealing the AFSPA in the State has been initiated with the participation of masses from Dimapur by way of organizing a two day “March Against AFSPA”.
The two-day public march to the State Capital, Kohima, in order to submit a memorandum to the President of India through the Governor of Nagaland, Jagdish Mukhi, to demand complete “withdrawal of AFSPA” from the State started at 6 am from Super Market, Dimapur, where the participants (protestors) armed with some listed “demands” marched.
Though the demand (s) through the memorandum could only be known only the next day of the march when participants submit it to the Governor, however, it was learnt that some of the demands included complete repeal of the AFSPA’1958 from Nagaland, “complete justice” be given to victims of Oting massacre either monetary compensation or bringing the “perpetrators” by trying them in Civil Court or through Civil procedures.
It also included that due justice should be given to victims of the past “atrocities”.
The two-day march which is being tagged as “March Against AFSPA” covering more than 70 Kms from the commercial hub of Nagaland, to the State Capital, Kohima, would see the “protestors” submitting a memorandum to the President of India through Nagaland’s Governor for immediate repeal of the AFSPA from the State.
A public initiated and not led by any Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) or by any political party (s), a coordinator of the march, informed that the march would be a “peaceful and non-violent walk” for which he sought cooperation from the participants in obeying the “authorities” and not to indulge in any violence throughout the “journey”.
He said that after a halt for the night at Piphema, approximately around 45 kms from the commercial hub, Dimapur, and more than 30 Kms before entering the Capital City, the same march would continue the next day at 6am towards Kohima where the participants (protesters) would be received by the public and other organizations before proceeding towards Raj Bhavan, Kohima, to submit the memorandum.
One of the coordinator also asserted that the march was initiated as a mean to be “peaceful, a political voice” against AFSPA led by the general public.
Hundreds including 5 year old join peaceful march to demand repeal of AFSPA
Along with hundreds, joining the almost 75 kilometers march, the walkathon organized to appeal authorities to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and demand justice for the 14 civilians who were killed by members of security forces at Oting in Mon district on December 4, a five year old and a Class A student of Shemrock School, Dimapur, Chentipong Kichu, also joined the march along with his mother Narola till Medziphema, on Monday.
Following a recent “public lament” programme organized by Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR) in memory of the December 4 and 5 victims at Oting village in Mon district at Christian Higher Secondary School (CHHS), Dimapur, where he happened to have attended, it was learnt that when he heard about the walkathon, he volunteered himself after “pestering” his parents to join them till the last stop of the day (Piphema) but made him withdraw from Medziphema being a minor.
NGOs and others resent AFSPA in NE
The Naga Hoho (NH) had earlier also asserted that the extension of the AFSPA for another six months in Nagaland in the midst of the people protesting against the inhuman Act is nothing but an act to “dehumanise” the Naga people.
In its earlier statement, the Naga Hoho had said that even after slaughtering Naga brothers on December 4 & 5 at Oting village, the government of India still continues to ignore the pain and cry of the Naga people it termed was extremely shocked by the attitude of the government of India for ignoring the voice of the Naga people as a whole while also stating it is a direct challenge and a message from the Government of India to keep on crushing the inalienable rights of the Nagas.
It had also called upon the every Naga people across borders to stand in united voice and be prepared for any eventuality in the days to come.
“Our identity and our lives cannot be compromised in the hands of the Indian security forces but to stand up for our God given rights. We will decide our destiny but not by the Government of India,” it had asserted.
Union Home Minister
Many had voiced and deliberated on the Union Home minister’s called meeting on December 23 last in New Delhi.
Attended by Nagaland Chief Minister, Neiphiu Rio, Assam Chief Minister, Himanta Biswas Sarma, Nagaland Deputy Chief Minister and In-charge Home, Y. Patton, and NPFLP leader, TR Zeliang, Shah’s chaired meet had called to discuss the “present scenario” in Nagaland and to deliberate on different issues which had also led to decision making.
It was in the meeting that a committee to look into the withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Nagaland was proposed and to be instituted to be chaired by the Secretary-NE, MHA, and would include the Chief Secretary, and Director General of Police (DGP), Nagaland.
Other members included in the committee are IGAR (N), and representative of the CRPF.
It was also said that the committee would be submitting its report within 45 days for and recommending withdrawal of the “Disturbed Area” and the “AFSPA” from Nagaland.
Also informing that a Court enquiry would initiate disciplinary proceedings against the army unit and personnel, who are directly involved in the Oting incident, it was far to be seen that action the action (s) taken immediately against on the basis of “fair enquiry” while the identified persons who have to face enquiry being placed under suspension.
It was also said that Nagaland government would provide jobs to next of the kin and the deceased, for which the Nagaland government has directed to initiate the process, which the Deputy Commissioner (DC) and the Superintendent of Police (SP), Mon, would carry out the necessary procedures in consultation with the concerned village councils and government jobs be given on “compassionate grounds”.
Meghalaya CM voices against AFSPA
NPP Chief and Meghalaya Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma, during his stopover in Dimapur, Nagaland, in the month of December has also shared his concern on Oting massacre and the AFSPA in the Northeast.
During the stopover from at Dimapur after attending a programme at Senapatti, Manipur, enroute to Guwahati, Conrad had disclosed at a press meet called at the residence of NPP Nagaland State unit president, Andrew Ahoto, at Signal Bosti, Dimapur, that he would be meeting the Union Home Minister, Amit Shah to discuss about AFSPA and also voiced that the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act has no place in a democratic society.
He later said that the NPP has been against the imposition of the AFSPA in the Northeastern states and opined that repealing of the Act would send a strong message to the people of the region and the gesture will be able to “bridge the trust deficit”.
Conrad, also had urged upon the Nagaland government and the Centre to work together to repeal the Act, by stating that “insurgency” was an outcome of a lot of “socio-economic problems” for which he called for finding a solution to the issue in a right way.