After the killing of 15 civilians by security forces in Nagaland’s Mon district, clamour grows for the repeal of the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from the Northeast.
Several political parties and organisations of the Northeast and two chief ministers from the region have demanded the repeal of the draconian Act.
Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio said that he has urged the Centre to revoke the Act.
“I have urged the Union government to remove AFSPA from Nagaland as the law is a black spot on the image of the country,” Rio said.
Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma has also asked for the repeal of the Act that grants security forces considerable immunity while carrying out counter-insurgency operations.
“AFSPA should be repealed,” Sangma said in a tweet.
In response to Sangma’s tweet, Congress leader Ampareen Lyngdoh, said, “The Meghalaya Congress legislature party will support repeal of AFSPA.”
In a press statement on December 5, the influential civil society group, Naga Mothers Association, stated, “We demand that the state government takes cognisance of these repeated violations of human rights under AFSPA and move for lifting AFSPA and strongly recommend for its repeal, as we stand on the threshold of peace.”
Mutchu Mithi, president of the Arunachal chapter of the NPP, also called for the repeal of the Act.
Highlighting the Oting incident, Mithi said, “This is a stark reminder of how armed forces have with impunity misused AFSPA as a repressive tool to reinforce in a reign of systemic widespread terror in citizens of Northeast disrupting every peace process. AFSPA must be repealed.”
The Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP), has also spoken out against the imposition of AFSPA in the region to allow the security forces to conduct counter-insurgency operations.
AJP leader Jagadish Bhuyan, in a tweet, said on December 6, “We strongly condemn the tragic incident that resulted in civilian deaths in Nagaland. This is the result of AFSPA!”
TIPRA also sought the repeal of the Act. TIPRA leader Pradyot Manikya Debbarman, “Said it before, saying it again. Repeal AFSPA.”
Apprehending that “civilians were deliberately targeted,” the Rising People’s Party lambasted the “insinuation of Indian media houses that the killings were collateral damage.”
Sharply reacting to the killings, the civil society, students’ unions and political parties have demanded the immediate repeal of controversial laws like AFSPA and Disturbed Areas Act in the insurgency-hit Northeastern region, withdrawing their participation from the Hornbill Festival 2021.
United Naga Council in a press statement said that “such condemnable act of terrorism is in no way pardonable under any circumstances.
The insane action of the security forces has unravelled their hypocritical slogan, ‘Friends of the Hill People’.”
Condemning the incident, the North East Students Organisation, the umbrella body of all the major students’ associations of the Northeast states, has demanded the repeal of the AFSPA from the region.
“We demand exemplary punishment for those involved in this barbaric act,” NESO said.
Nagaland Joint Christian Forum said that the military action “cannot just be whitewashed as a mistake.”
NJCF Vice president, Rev Dr N Paphino said, “The AFSPA has emboldened such an action without a second thought and this is bound to happen again and again unless the Government of India seriously take note of it and scrap it once and for all.”
Central Nagaland Students’ Association stated that the “exorbitant and unbridled” use of military force by the Indian security forces on the Naga people was not just undermining basic human rights but also blatantly violating the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India.
Maintaining that the draconian AFSPA has been used by the military as a tool to perpetrate “unimaginable terror” upon the Nagas for decades, Angami Youth Organization stated. “The Oting incident serves as a bleak reminder of the atrocities committed by Indian military forces upon the Naga people for the past six decades. As long as the dreaded AFSPA exists, a bloodbath of the innocent will continue.”
Dimapur Ao Youth Organization said that people killed in the first firing incident on Saturday were breadwinners of their families. “Calling the ambush an intelligence failure is another level of insensitivity and insult to the priceless human lives lost for no fault of theirs,” the organisation stated.