The Centre’s decision to extend the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA)in Nagaland by six months has evoked sharp reactions from tribal groups and political parties in the north-eastern state.

Taking a dig at the Centre, the Naga People’s Front (NPF), said in a statement that it was “aghast and affronted”, especially because the extension came days after the December 23 meeting, which was chaired by Union Home Minister Shah.

“This extension is a manifestation of the utter disregard the central government has for the voices of small states, particularly in North-east India, considering that the Nagaland Legislative Assembly has convened a special one-day session on 20th December to deliberate on AFSPA and the House had unanimously resolved to demand its repeal,” NPF said in a statement on Thursday.

The centre recently decided to set up a panel to examine the possibility of withdrawing AFSPA from Nagaland.

The decision was taken in a meeting which was attended by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, Deputy Chief Minister Yanthungo Patton and NPF Legislature Party leader T R Zeliang, as well as Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.

The Naga Hoho, the state’s apex tribal body, said it was “extremely shocked” by the attitude of the Centre for “ignoring the voice of the Naga people”.

“It is a direct challenge and a message from the Government of India to keep on crushing the inalienable rights of the Nagas. If India is truly a democratic country, then the voice of the people should have been heard. Whereas, on the contrary the dignity and rights of the Naga people are simply not respected neither considered as fellow human beings,” the group said in a statement.

The Naga Student Federation (NSF) said they would launch a series of protests against the extension of AFSPA in the state.

“Going by the adamant attitude of the GOI, the Naga people must be prepared to face them head-on this New Year,” the NSF said in a statement.

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