Nagaland lawmaker KG Kenye slams Afspa, compares it with ‘licence to kill’

His remarks came in the aftermath of the killings of 14 civilians in Nagaland over the weekend during a botched counter-insurgency army operation and subsequent violence
Human rights groups and student bodies from Nagaland hold a candle-light vigil in New Delhi on Monday. (ANI)
Human rights groups and student bodies from Nagaland hold a candle-light vigil in New Delhi on Monday. (ANI)
Published on Dec 07, 2021 03:20 PM IST
Copy Link

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, also known as Afspa, should be repealed immediately as it is “tantamount to a licence to kill” and it has only created animosity between the people and the government, claimed Naga People’s Front leader and Rajya Sabha MP KG Kenye on Tuesday.

His remarks came in the aftermath of the killings of 14 civilians in Nagaland over the weekend during a botched counter-insurgency army operation and subsequent violence.

Condemning the killings by the Indian Army’s 21 Para Special Forces, who have been named in a police FIR, the lawmaker said, “I want to awaken the conscience of the nation that this Act is detrimental to the national interest. It has been of no use except [to] create animosity… It is the culprit for the excesses being committed by the armed forces. The special powers are being abused. It (the Afspa) tantamounts to being a licence to kill.”

Kenye told HT that the Afspa, which has been in place in Nagaland since 1958, has been used with “impunity, killing innocent people, and there is no law to prosecute them”.

Also Read: TMC team headed to Nagaland returns from Kolkata airport, says Sec 144 imposed in Mon

On Monday, amid growing clamour for the law to be scrapped, union home minister Amit Shah expressed regret over the killings and told Parliament that the firings were a consequence of “mistaken identity”. He also said that the security forces had to shoot “for their own safety and to disperse the crowd”.

Kenye welcomed Shah’s comments, saying, “The circumstances as per his description are yet to be authenticated. But as for the government expressing sincere regrets, is something we are glad for. For the first time, a man of his stature on behalf of the government has taken responsibility. This is a paradigm shift.”

On the impact that the episode will have on the electoral fortunes of the BJP and its ally, the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), which is in power in the state, Kenye said political parties won’t bear the brunt of people’s anger since the Afspa has anyway been in place in Nagaland for years during which power has changed hands between various parties.

The NPF was also a partner of the BJP in the northeastern state.

“The state government does not have much role to play. The Assam Rifles is under the Centre. The state has made ex gratia payment, the CM representing voices across parties has expressed that the Afspa should be repealed,” Kenye said.

The lawmaker, however, lamented that the civilian killings will undo the progress made in firming up the Naga Peace Accord.

“If this continues, then people may put pressure on the parties to pull out and that would be catastrophic. After so much effort by various parties and right-thinking people, we are on the threshold of a possible amicable settlement, and within hours, the bridge of friendship has been dismantled by the armed forces. Ultimately, the biggest casualty will be national integrity,” the MP said.

Apart from calling for the Afspa to be repealed, Kenye pushed for a speedy trial in connection with the weekend’s killings. “It is unpardonable and the culprits must be brought to book as early as possible, which will be the biggest consolation for everyone,” he said.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Smriti covers an intersection of politics and governance. Having spent over a decade in journalism, she combines old fashioned leg work with modern story telling tools.

Close Story
SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Thursday, May 26, 2022