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‘Repeal AFSPA’, ‘Justice For Oting Victims’ reverberates in Ukhrul

FILE PHOTO: A rally demanding repeal of AFSPA in Naga areas and Northeast region of India and justice for Oting victims

We long for a peaceful future. A future without war and conflict. We long to live in peace and at par with the rest of the world. All Naga Students’ Association, Manipur (ANSAM), Tangkhul Katamnao Saklong (TKS)  and Tangkhul Frontal Organisations under the aegis of Naga Students’  Federation (NSF) organised a mass rally demanding the repeal of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 at Ukhrul Headquarters. 

TFM Ukhrul Correspondent

Hundreds of people came out in support of the rally demanding repeal of AFSPA in Naga areas and Northeast region of India and justice for Oting victims. The people’s rally submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister of India demanding for immediate repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 and justice for all victims of army excesses committed by the Indian Armed Forces jointly signed by President and General Secretary of ANSAM. 

Vice President of NSF, Adokiho Sumi in his keynote address stated that “at this time of the year, where it was supposed to be the season of light, of hope and healing, the Indian armed forces acting on behalf of the State have unleashed terror and fear in the hearts and minds of the peace loving citizen in our Naga Homeland.

“Today, we are gathered here utterly shocked, angered, in grief and in disbelief beyond words at the extra judicial and mindless act of terrorism committed by the armed forces of the Government of India upon the peaceful civilians in our Naga Homeland.

“The Federation offers our deepest condolences to the family members of the dear departed souls whose lives were brutally massacred. We offer our sincere respect and honour in memory of the precious souls. Though we have lost our beloved sons of the soil, it is our prayer and our comfort that the noble souls are at peace with our Almighty Gid. Their death will not be in vain  we the Naga youths and the upcoming generation shall continue to honour their memories by carrying forward the aspirations of the Naga people through generations to come.

“Today’s rally has been called to voice out the resentment of the Nagas’ against the draconian and oppressive  Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. For so long as AFSPA continues to exist, our lives, our land and our people will always be tormented by fear and uncertainty.

“The Federation demands that the Government of India sets up a court monitored committee to be headed by a retired Supreme Court/High Court judge in order to ensure that Oting incidents are probed in a fair and impartial manner. The Federation reiterated our stand that the Special Investigation Team (SIT) being set up by the Government of Nagaland will not do justice to the willful acts of the Indian Armed Forces under the protection of the repressive AFSPA. More so, the Government of India must admit to their failure of its intelligence agencies and publicly apologise to the Naga people for furthering their subjugation of the Nagas through militarization. Justice should be delivered immediately to the victims of the gruesome Oting incidents and to all the pending cases related to the excesses committed by the Indian armed forces.

“The Federation sees no rationale as to why the entire Naga homeland within India is tagged as “disturbed area” and the repressive AFSPA is thrust upon its people when the Indo-Naga political dialogue’s being held at the Prime Minister’s level is at a very crucial stage. More so, the prevailing law and order situation in the Naga inhabited areas does not merit the Act which has only been used as a tool for psychological warfare against Naga people. It is only because of AFSPA that the Indian armed forces continue to operate with impunity while forgetting all values and virtues that inhibit a sober soul. It is, therefore, demanded of the Government of India to immediately withdraw the atrocious AFSPA from our Naga homeland and also repeal the same without any excuses whatsoever.

“We shall not shy away nor be cowered down by such acts of terrorism. We shall not rest until justice is delivered and a logical closure is brought about. We demand that this draconian law is repealed once and for all and that human rights are restored in the homeland of Nagas. Though words can never fathom nor express the pain of the loss of a son, a daughter, a brother and a sister, we stand together as one people today sharing the grief and sorrow at the irreparable loss of true sons and daughters of the soil.

“Our journey as people in itself has been a challenge, however, the blood of the thousand innocent victims, the struggle of our people and the tears of our mothers will continue to guide and inspire our people through generations to come. We shall continue to celebrate their legacy and their Iives in the pages of history and from the fond memories of our hearts. We cannot afford during this critical juncture of our long journey as a dignified people which has been sustained with blood, sweat and tears beyond borders by all Nagas. Let us continue to remain united, show unconditional love towards each other, respect each other’s differences and limitations with humility and together with Christ let us forge towards our ultimate goal. We long for a peaceful future. A future without war and conflict. We long to live in peace and at par with the rest of the world.”

Secretary of United Naga Council (UNC), S Milan stated ” We also share the pain and grief of the family members and to their near and dear ones. May their souls rest in peace. The blood that they have shed will never go in vain. It will bring the Nagas together more and more closer. Nagas will not cow down to what has happened on that very day. Do you accept the killings on “mistaken identity” ? I don’t want to accept it. It is an unpardonable crime, acts that they have committed to the precious lives of Naga people. The AFSPA has been enacted to terrorise the Nagas. When Indo-Naga peace talks are going on, why should not the Government of India repeal AFSPA from the entire Naga inhabited areas and entire State of North East India. AFSPA is anti people and anti-human, therefore it should be lifted or repeal immediately. “

President of Naga Women Union (NWU), Asha Wungnam stated “I on behalf of 20 Tribes Women in Southern Naga strongly condemn the cold blooded killing and massacre of 15 Konyak Youth and injuring several other civilians on 4th and 5th December 2021, at Oting village, Mon District, by the 21 Para Commandos and Assam Rifles of the Indian Army. Today, we are gathering here through their blood invitation. Naga brothers and sisters, the incident is reminding us all of the past history, what had happened in our land in the hands of the Indian army. Some of the incidents that took place: 

1. The rape victim Rose Ningshen of Kumram village, Ukhrul District. On March 4, 1974 she was raped by BSF officers who were posted in the village. Two days after the incident, Rose committed suicide, 

2. On January, 24, 1986 Luingamla Muinao of Ngainga village, Ukhrul District, rape was attempted and was shot death by Captain Mandhir Singh of Madras Regiment on her confrontation.

3. On July, 9, 1987, Operation Bluebird of Oinam Hill, Senapati District incident.

4. In 2009 Shirui siege

5. In 2019 Kangkum village, Ukhrul District incident, etc. 

There are many more incidents that took place in our region. We are deeply concerned by the deteriorating circumstances in which such lawlessness exists, which undermines and pays no heed to the fundamental rights of citizens as enshrined in the Indian Constitution and internal human rights law.

“Shall we still welcome them? To arrest, torture and kill the Naga men? And rape the women? How long are we to be under suppression/oppression in the name of AFSPA? Therefore, brothers and sisters, to all those in whom Naga blood runs, time has come to prepare ourselves. We don’t need any forces to safeguard us. “Leave us alone.” We can protect ourselves. We demand that the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act be repealed to put an end to this culture of extra judicial killing in the region.”

Member of Naga People’s Movement For Human Rights (South), Ashim Pearl Shimray stated that “through Oting incident once again we are reliving the various incidents that have been committed to our people by the Indian Security Forces under the shadow of AFSPA. This kind of devilish law should not exist in any modern democracy. We are not in a vengeance mode but AFSPA must go. Indian have the audacity to call herself the biggest democracy in the world when there is killing of civilians by her armed forces. If there is no war, why there should be security forces being deployed in large numbers in a peaceful area. Since 1958, Indian Security Forces has been killing our brothers and raping our sisters in our homeland violating human rights. This fight is for the whole Nagas and not Konyak alone.”

President of Tangkhul Katamnao Saklong (TKS), Shimri Raising questioned “how many Nagas lives shall they take? These draconian Acts must go. If the Government of India fails to acknowledge and hear our cry we will continue to agitate until AFSPA is repealed.”

President of Tangkhul Shanao Long (TSL), Veronica Zingkhai stated “It is a shame to the so-called “friends of the hill people” who committed such an inhuman Act under the shadow of AFSPA. Everyone is a victim of this draconian Acts. Let us not forget easily the pain and tears we have shed because of AFSPA and appeal to the people to extend maximum cooperation in the fight against this draconian law.”

Solidarity voices were also shared by Senapati District Student’s Association (SDSA), Naga Student’s Union Chandel (NSUC), All Inpui Student’s Union (AISU – Tamenglong) , Tangkhul Naga Long (TNL) and ANSAM. 

Rallyist were seen carrying placards that read “Repeal AFSPA” “We demand immediate withdrawal of AFSPA from all the Naga areas” “Justice For Oting victims” “Nagas are not terrorist” “Nagas lives matter too” “AFSPA is anti-humanitarian” etc and etc. The rally started from two directions Khamasom Junction and Dungrei Junction and converged at Tangkhul Long Ground.

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