Dimapur: Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio on Monday said total abolition of the AFSPA from the state may take time.
Stating that the partial lifting of AFSPA is a “test”, Rio cautioned that the Act may be reinstated if law and order cannot be controlled during this crucial period.
He said this while addressing a consultative meeting, called by the state government, with the civil society organisations on AFSPA at the Chumukedima police complex here.
The central government removed AFSPA from 15 police stations in seven districts of Nagaland with effect from April 1. The Act is now in force in 57 police stations in 13 districts out of 72 police stations in 16 districts in the state.
Rio appealed for cooperation with the government to ensure that no untoward incidents occur. He also urged all the stakeholders to seriously ponder how to maintain law and order in the state.
As the Naga solution is for all the Nagas, he appealed that the Nagas should harbour a sense of unity and oneness and not be selfish in their demands.
He thanked the civil society organisations, tribal leaders, and student bodies for always cooperating and supporting the government.
Pointing out that all the stakeholders had appealed for the abolishment of the “draconian AFSPA”, Rio said the Government of India has finally heard the appeals of the people.
He said the state government had formed a 22-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the December 4 Oting incident in which 13 civilians were killed in a botched up army operation. He congratulated the SIT members for their prompt action in conducting investigations and submitting their preliminary reports.
“Once the full report is submitted and a case is filed, its contents will be made public,” he said. The Centre also formed its SIT and they have also submitted their report, he added.
United Democratic Alliance chairman TR Zeliang said the partial lifting of the AFSPA is in an experimental phase with the end goal of completely removing it from the state. He appealed for joint responsibility and cooperation as the police would be handicapped without the peoples’ support.
Chief secretary J Alam said the AFSPA has been removed completely in three districts and partially removed in four districts of the state. He expressed hope that further progress in this connection will be seen in the days to come.
Home Commissioner Abhijit Sinha said the lifting of AFSPA from 15 police stations can be seen as the first step toward the total abolition of the Act from the state.
DGP T John Longklumer said IRB personnel have been deployed at strategic locations to ensure the maintenance of law and order.
Sharing its views, the Eastern Naga Students Federation (ENSF) appealed for delivering total justice to all the victims of the Oting incident. It said the state government should remind the Centre in this regard.
The ENSF said it is still in non-cooperation with the armed forces and will continue to do so until justice is delivered.
Other tribal bodies also shared their opinions at the meeting.