Nagas voice resentment
Staff Reporter | EMN
DIMAPUR, AUGUST 1
THE latest diktat from New Delhi declaring the extension of Disturbed Area Act in Nagaland for another year, which in effect has imposed the “draconian” Armed Forces Special Power Act of 1958 for the same period in the state, has been met with staunch resistance from various quarters in Nagaland. The Centre, through the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, had on July 30 last issued a notification informing of the extension of Disturbed Area Act in Nagaland for another year with effect from June 30, 2013.
Baptist clergyman and convener of Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR), Rev Dr Wati Aier on Thursday told Eastern Mirror that New Delhi should have exhibited more “leniency” towards the Naga people before deciding to extend the DA Act further. The FNR has been, for the past half decade, spearheading the campaign to broker peace between rival Naga underground groups.
“Personally, I feel that it should be an objective realistic assessment,” he said. Aier maintained that he was speaking in his own personal capacity and not on the FNR’s behalf.
Aier reasoned that Naga society today has seen “tremendous progress when compared to the past” and that the people were ready for peace. “Of course, though we see pockets of violence (even today), these are not every day affairs. So from that perspective, I feel that there should be an objective realistic assessment,” he said.
Against this backdrop, Aier argued that the “government of India should also be lenient.”
The apex Naga student organization, Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) has also released a press statement “strongly denouncing” the Centre’s decision to extend the Disturbed Area Act in the state.
While demanding for immediate revocation of the order, the NSF maintained that the “draconian and anti-human law of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFPSA) was enacted deliberately by India to suppress and subjugate the Nagas.”
It reasoned that in order to impose the Disturbed Area Act, there must be a “grave law and order situation” in that particular area. There is no such law and order problem in Nagaland, the statement said.
The NSF wondered why New Delhi was hell-bent on repressing the peace-loving Naga people when cease-fire agreement between the government of India and Naga underground groups were still in effect.
“If the government of India is serious on maintaining peace in the region, it should encourage people to people communication and dialogue instead of forcefully enforcing the AFSPA, which is never a law to protect the people but just a tool of
state abuse, oppression and discrimination used by the government of India against the people,” the NSF said.
The Centre’s alleged arbitrary decision in extending the “Disturbed Areas Act” has also evoked reactions from the underground groups, particularly from the Naga National Council .
A statement by email from, the Information and Publicity wing of NNC termed the Centre’s latest decision as an act of “hypocrisy and a mockery of the largest democracy of the world.”
It also questioned the logic behind the Centre’s decision to impose the “draconian law in Naga Homeland” when there was a cease-fire agreement already in place for the past sixteen years.”
Ironically the Chief Minister and his senior cabinet colleagues met the Union Home Minister on July 30th in New Delhi, to request him for an early solution to the Naga political problem. This was the same day the order for extension of the Disturbed Areas Act was issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Little wonder then that through the years the biggest deficit in the decades old struggle of political rights of the Nagas continues to be “trust” and a wholistic approach by New Delhi on the Naga political issue.