Representational image.

The Centre has decided to constitute a committee to look into the withdrawal of the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act (AFSPA) in Nagaland.

The decision was taken at a meeting, chaired by Union home minister Amit Shah, in New Delhi on December 23 to discuss the present scenario in Nagaland in the aftermath of the killings of 13 innocent civilians in Oting village on December 4 and another person in Mon town on December 5 in firing by the security forces.

The meeting was attended by Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is also the convener of the North East Democratic Alliance, Nagaland deputy chief minister Y Patton and Naga People’s Front Legislature Party leader TR Zeliang.

The committee has been asked to submit its report within 45 days. The withdrawal of disturbed area and the AFSPA from Nagaland will be based on the recommendations of the committee, a joint statement issued by Rio, Patton and Zeliang said on Sunday.

The committee will be chaired by the Ministry of Home Affairs’ additional secretary for North East and will include Nagaland chief secretary and director general of police.

Other members to be included in the committee are the inspector general of Assam Rifles (North) and a representative of the CRPF.

The meeting decided that a court of inquiry will initiate disciplinary proceedings against the army unit and army personnel, who are directly involved in the Oting incident and action will be taken immediately on the basis of fair inquiry.

The identified persons who will face the inquiry will be placed under suspension with immediate effect, the statement said.

The Nagaland delegation impressed upon the home minister to replace the Assam Rifles unit in Mon with immediate effect.

It was also decided that the Nagaland government will provide government jobs to the next of kin of the deceased.

To initiate this process, the deputy commissioner and the superintendent of police of Mon district will carry out necessary procedures in consultation with the village councils concerned.

The government jobs will be given on compassionate grounds on the basis of eligibility, the statement said.

The Nagaland delegation expressed gratitude to Shah for taking the matter with utmost seriousness and appreciated the government of India for taking the required steps to ensure justice and for positively responding to the voice of the people.

The state government has urged all sections of people to remain calm and continue to maintain a peaceful atmosphere.

Saying that the democratic and peaceful nature of the civil society groups, tribal hohos (bodies) and mass-based organisations in ‘our collective quest for justice and truth’ has been well received, the government said it has created a positive image of the Naga people to the rest of the global community.

The Nagaland Assembly convened a one-day special session on December 20 to discuss repeal of AFSPA in Nagaland.

The 60-member Assembly unanimously demanded that the Government of India repeal the Act from the North East, specifically from Nagaland, to strengthen the ongoing efforts to find a peaceful political settlement to the Naga political issue.

Bhadra Gogoi

Bhadra Gogoi is Northeast Now Correspondent in Nagaland. He can be reached at: bhadragogoi@yahoo.com