The Naga Students Federation (NSF) on Friday organised a mega rally in Kohima to voice its resentment against the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act (AFSPA) and demanded its immediate repeal in the Naga homeland.
It said the draconian Act must be repealed once and for all and human rights restored in the Naga homeland.
The rally was held in the backdrop of the Oting firing in Nagaland’s Mon district in which 14 civilians lost their lives in firing by the security forces on December 4 and 5.
Braving chilly weather, both students and the public attended the rally at Old MLA junction in large numbers, holding placards some which read ‘Justice for Oting victims’, ‘No more false encounters’, ‘stop dehumanising Nagas’ ‘AFSPA is evil’, etc.
Various organisations have been holding a series of protests across the state since the Oting killings to demand removal of AFSPA from Nagaland and justice for the victims.
NSF president Kegwayhun Tep, in his address, said, “So long as the AFSPA continues to exist, our lives, our land, and our people will always be tormented by fear and uncertainty.”
He said there is no rationale to tag the entire Naga homeland within India as ‘disturbed areas’, adding the ‘repressive AFSPA’ has been thrust upon the Naga people when the Indo-Naga political dialogue, being held at the Prime Minister’s level, is at a very crucial stage.
Tep said the prevailing law and order situation in the Naga-inhabited areas does not merit the application of the Act, which has only been used as a tool for psychological warfare against the Naga people.
“It is only because of AFSPA that the Indian armed forces continue to operate with impunity while forgetting all values and virtues that inhibit a sober soul,” he stated.
Tep demanded that the Government of India must immediately withdraw the ‘atrocious AFSPA’ from the Naga homeland and also repeal it without any excuses whatsoever.
“At this time of the year, where it was supposed to be the season of light, of hope, and healing, the Indian armed forces acting on behalf of the state have unleashed terror and fear in the hearts and minds of the peace-loving citizens in our Naga homeland,” he said
He said the people are utterly shocked, angered and in grief and disbelief at the extrajudicial and mindless act of terrorism committed by the armed forces of the Government of India on the peaceful civilians in the Naga homeland.
Offering deepest condolences to the families of the deceased, the NSF asserted that their deaths will not be in vain.
The federation demanded that the Government of India set up a court-monitored committee, to be headed by a retired Supreme Court or High Court judge, in order to ensure that the Oting incidents are probed in a fair and impartial manner.
It reiterated its stand that the Special Investigation Team set up by the Nagaland government will not do justice to the ‘willful acts’ of the Indian armed forces under the protection of the repressive AFSPA.
The NSF, the apex body of Naga students, also demanded that the Government of India admit the utter failure of its intelligence agencies and publicly apologise to the Naga people for ‘furthering their subjugation of the Nagas through its policy of militarisation’.
“Justice should be delivered immediately to the victims of the gruesome Oting incidents and to all the pending cases related to the excesses committed by the Indian armed forces,” Tep said.
Asserting that it will not shy away from nor be cowed down by such acts of terrorism, the NSF said it will not rest until justice is delivered and a logical conclusion is reached.
The NSF on Friday also shot off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding immediate repeal of AFSPA.
Narrating how the imposition of the AFSPA in Nagaland led to the killings and atrocities committed on the Naga people since 1960, the federation demanded immediate justice for the Oting victims and expedite judgement and delivery of justice to all pending cases related to excesses committed by the Indian armed forces upon the Nagas.
It also demanded that the process for Naga political solution be expedited to bring about a mutually agreed upon inclusive, honourable and acceptable solution at the earliest.