Nagaland minister V Kashiho Sangtam has alleged that the Army has taken “undue advantage” of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act to “kill and terrorise” people since 1958.
He was speaking on behalf of the Eastern Nagaland Legislators’ Union (ENLU), which represents 20 of the 60 MLAs in the state, during a candlelight vigil organised by Konyak Union in Kohima on Sunday.
Sangtam said that repeal of the Act has been a long-standing demand of the people of the Northeast.
“Due to the imposition of AFSPA, our people have for so long suffered untold miseries and discrimination at the hands of security forces,” the soil and water conservation minister said.
He said that thousands of lives have been lost and homes left shattered and broken due to AFSPA, but the protests against this Act seem to have fallen on deaf ears.
AFSPA gives sweeping powers to paramilitary forces in “disturbed areas” to search any premises, arrest anyone without a warrant, and shoot or kill anyone on mere suspicion, the minister said.
Eastern Nagaland Women’s Union Kohima unit president Lemei B Phom called on all Nagas to stand unitedly so that “future generations are spared from such brutality”.
Eastern Nagaland Peoples’ Union Kohima unit president N Toshi Chang said that the incident has shaken the entire Naga community, whose “tears won’t dry up so easily”.
Konyak Union Kohima unit chief H Angnyei Konyak said that Nagas will never forgive the army personnel for killing the civilians.