Afspa is damaging image of India: CMs of Nagaland and Meghalaya call for repeal

CMs of Nagaland and Meghalaya are part of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance that is in power in the two northeastern states, and at the Centre
Nagaland CM Neiphiu Rio said authorities will pursue justice for the killed civilians and that a case has been booked against the special operations team of the Indian Army. (PTI)
Nagaland CM Neiphiu Rio said authorities will pursue justice for the killed civilians and that a case has been booked against the special operations team of the Indian Army. (PTI)
Updated on Dec 07, 2021 06:29 AM IST
Copy Link
ByHT Correspondents

Kohima/New Delhi: The chief ministers of Nagaland and Meghalaya on Monday asked the central government to repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958 (AFSPA), which protects armed forces from prosecution for killings in disturbed areas. The demand follows the killing of 14 civilians by defence forces in Nagaland’s Mon district on Saturday and Sunday.

The Nagaland government wants the longstanding AFSPA to be repealed, chief minister Neiphiu Rio said.

“AFSPA is damaging the image of our country, which is the world’s largest democracy,” Rio said at the funeral services for the dead civilians in Mon on Monday. Authorities will pursue justice for the killed civilians, the chief minister said, adding that a case has been booked against the special operations team of the Indian Army.

Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma backed Rio. “AFSPA should be repealed,” Sangma tweeted.

Later in a video message, he said his party has opposed the AFSPA since the days of his father and former Lok Sabha speaker P A Sangma. “AFSPA has not given any results. In fact, its enforcement has proved to be counterproductive. There are many ways to deal with (insurgency) issues. AFSPA is not the way. Repeal the draconian law,” the National People’s Party leader said.

Both Rio and Sangma are part of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance that is in power in the two northeastern states, and at the Centre.

AFSPA is in force in several northeastern states, home to some insurgent groups, and in Jammu and Kashmir. Under the law, local police need prior approval of the central government to prosecute army or paramilitary forces in civilian courts.

The Army has constituted a court of inquiry into the incident when six coal miners were killed in an ambush by special forces looking for insurgents. The killings led to violent protests by villagers, who torched three army vehicles.

The soldiers responded with gunfire, killing seven more people, officials said. One soldier was also killed in the clash. In a protest on Sunday, one more civilian was killed when an irate mob tried to set fire to an Assam rifles camp in Mon town. Some of the 11 injured civilians, are said to be in serious condition.

People in Nagaland have been demanding the repeal of the 1958 law for years, and several human rights organisations have called the act draconian.

The killing of insurgents has been declining in Nagaland, with just two deaths in 2018, official data show. No deaths of insurgents in clashes with security forces were reported in 2017 and 2016. Four deaths were reported in 2015 and three in 2014. Since 2001, the highest number of insurgents reported to be killed in Nagaland was 53, the data showed.

In Nagaland, insurgency started in the mid-1950s, with rebels seeking an independent homeland. They have watered down their demand, and have agreed to reach a solution under the Constitution. However, a final agreement is yet to be reached.

The demand for the repeal of AFSPA echoed in Parliament during a debate over the latest Nagaland troubles.

Home minister Amit Shah should immediately call a meeting of all chief ministers of northeastern states, Trinamool Congress leader in Rajya Sabha Sushmita Dev demanded. The problems related to AFSPA should be resolved through dialogue, she said.

“It is imperative that the Centre set up a committee to see if AFSPA is working in this country or not, Dev said. The killing of civilians in Nagaland has put a question mark over the Act.”

In 2019, Kiren Rijiju, who was then junior home minister, said in a written reply in Lok Sabha that there was no proposal to repeal AFSPA. Rijiju hails from Arunachal Pradesh in the northeast.

AFSPA is in force in Assam, Nagaland and Manipur (except the Imphal municipal area), in three districts of Arunachal Pradesh (Tirap, Changlang and Longding) and areas under the jurisdiction of eight police stations in the districts of Arunachal Pradesh that border Assam.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Wednesday, January 19, 2022