Naga Hoho, NPF and orgs. denounce AFSPA extension
Kohima/Dimapur, Dec. 30 (PTI/EMN): The Centre’s decision to extend the stringent Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act by another six months has raised the hackles of prominent Naga outfits, which said the measure was “unacceptable” and made with the intention to “suppress Nagas for generations to come”.
“Government of India has ignored the wishes of the Naga People…All Naga people have been pleading with the GoI and constantly pressing for repeal of the Act. Naga people don’t accept it. We will go to any extent to press the GoI to repeal the Act,” said K Elu Ndang, general secretary of Naga Hoho, an influential body of Naga tribes in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland.
He wondered why the AFSPA was extended despite peace prevailing in the state.
“As long as the Army is empowered to shoot and kill innocent people, there cannot be a peaceful environment in our land, he said, and alleged the armed forces and not the common people or Naga political groups were creating law and order problems in the state.
Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO) president R Tsapikiu Sangtam said the outfit has called a meeting on January 7 to discuss the extension of AFSPA.
Convenor of Global Naga Forum, Chuba Ozukum, a former president of Naga Students’ Federation, said protests against the law have been like “shouting in the wilderness”.
He said the Naga political issue would not have lingered for so long had the Centre been serious about resolving it, and claimed the killing of civilians earlier this month in Oting in Mon district by security forces was aimed at “breaking the ceasefire” but it did not succeed.
Now, their (GoI’s) intention is not to settle the political problem. They want to suppress our people for generations to come, he alleged.
Ozukum claimed the AFSPA was extended to “undermine the rights” of the Nagas.
Naga Mothers’ Association (NMA) advisor Prof. Rosemary Dzuvichu lamented the extension, saying it should not have happened amid protests by civilians and the ongoing investigation into the killings in Mon district. She insisted the extension of AFSPA was avoidable. “The measure amounts to challenging the Nagas,” she said.
We are shocked because this is an insult, especially to the grieving mothers, women and to all of us who have suffered under AFSPA for generations. We are the third generation to be reeling under the Act. It’s time for Nagas to rethink our position with regard to the GoI, she said.
AFSPA empowers security forces to conduct operations and arrest anyone without a warrant. It also gives certain immunities to the forces if they shoot someone dead.
No senior state government official was immediately available for comments.
Naga civil societies and political organisations have been demanding repeal of the AFSPA in the aftermath of killing of 14 civilians on December 4-5 by security forces.
Naga People’ Front also termed the extension by the Central government an “utter disregard” for the “voices of small states.” In a press statement issued on Thursday, NPF stated that CM Neiphiu Rio, Deputy CM Y Patton and the leader of the NPF Legislature TR Zeliang had issued a signed statement in a press conference after the December 23 meeting “expressing gratitude to the Union Home Minister Amit Shah for taking the matter with utmost seriousness and positively responding to the voices of the people.”
“Any discerning person is made to wonder if there is any modicum of co-ordination or even communication between the Executive and Legislative branches of the Central Government,” it read.
It furhter lauded the ‘restraint and maturity’ exhibited by the Nagas stating that “the democratic and peaceful nature of the civil society groups, tribal hohos and mass- based organisations in our collective quest for justice and truth has been well received and has created a positive image of the Naga people to the rest of the global community.”