After day-long deliberations on Monday, the Nagaland State Assembly has unanimously adopted a resolution to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). The move comes in wake of the killing of 14 civilians by security forces earlier this month.
On December 4, six coal mine workers, travelling back home along the Tiru-Oting road in Mon district, were gunned down by personnel of the 21 Para Special Forces. The same evening seven villagers who were part of a search party formed to look for the miners when they did not come home on time were also gunned down by the security forces when the villagers caught them allegedly hiding the bodies of the dead miners in a bid to allegedly sneak them away across the border to Assam. Another villager was killed when protesters attacked Camp 27 of Assam Rifles after the funeral of the dead miners was suddenly cancelled without proper intimation to families who had gathered at the Mon helipad to get the bodies of the deceased. All the 14 people killed belong to the Konyak tribe.
Given how security forces are virtually shielded from accountability for their actions because of the AFSPA, the chorus to repeal the draconian Act has been growing, not just in Nagaland, but across the North East. The resolution to scrap AFSPA has been taken by the Nagaland government previously as well in 1971 and 2015.
On Monday, the resolution to scrap AFSPA in the state was moved by none other than Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, who was quoted by various media reports as saying, ““This House must sound the desire of the people. The desire of the people is to repeal this undemocratic and draconian law.” The House condemned the Oting massacre and demanded justice for the families of victims.
Deputy Chief Minister Yanthungo Patton was quoted as saying, “The state government has consistently opposed the notification declaring Nagaland as a disturbed area on the grounds that the overall law and order in Nagaland has been good for many years now. Further, all the Naga Political Groups are in ceasefire with the Government of India. The ongoing peace talks are proceeding in the right direction, giving hope of an early solution to the Naga political issue.”
Meanwhile, the Army on Monday issued notice about its inquiry into the Oting firing incident, asking members of the public to share information, videos, pictures etc.