Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Together Against AFSPA

By The Editorial Team Updated: Jan 11, 2022 10:11 pm

It is clear that the people of Nagaland are disappointed and angry over the extension of the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in the state. Triggered by the brutal killing of over a dozen innocent civilians in Mon district earlier last month, several protests and mass rallies have been held across the state and beyond, demanding the government of India to repeal the draconian law besides serving justice to the Mon firing victims. The incumbent state government too has sent out a message, loud and clear, that it wants the AFSPA to go by unanimously passing a resolution during a special Assembly session to ask the Centre to withdraw it. It was the third resolution passed against the law by the state government since its enforcement in 1958. However, when everyone was expecting a positive move from the Centre, the law was extended, much to the dismay of the people. The just concluded two-day walkathon from Dimapur to Kohima, covering almost 70 km, was the quintessence of public anger over the government’s indifferent attitude towards their cries for decades. Hundreds of people from all walks of life, young and old joined the march, while many cheered along the way and offered food to those braving the winter sun and dust for the common cause. For the adults and the elderly, the recent Mon incidents cut opened old wounds and many gathered the strength to share the atrocities the people of the region suffered through under AFSPA. Many youth, who were oblivious of past sufferings, have come to know what this draconian law could do to the innocent public even during peace time. The Act has clearly done more harm than good. By declaring the entire state as a “disturbed area” once again amid protests to revoke it, the government of India has missed the opportunity to build the confidence and trust of the people.

The Centre’s move has also triggered political bickering in the state, but it could have been avoided as politicisation can weaken any cause. The fact is that almost all the Naga political groups have signed ceasefire agreements and are holding peace talks with the government of India. This has brought peace to the state with no cases of major clash between the Indian security forces and the insurgency groups for years now but AFSPA remains to this day. The Act should go if the law and order situation is the criteria for its imposition. Moreover, any law that gives impunity to the armed forces to arrest and kill people on mere suspicion should not have a place before or after settlement of Naga issue or in any society for that matter as it violates basic human rights. It may also be mentioned that the recent incident in Mon wouldn’t have happened if the state isn’t under the ambit of AFSPA, or at least the process of justice delivery would have been different. So, the people are demanding its removal and to punish those involved in the killing of innocent civilians to stop similar incidents in the future. And the citizens of the state are together in this.

By The Editorial Team Updated: Jan 11, 2022 10:11:32 pm