Guwahati: A 27-year-old resident of Kohima, Nagaland, with no political aspirations whatsoever, has started a petition to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Acts, 1958 (AFSPA), from Nagaland, asserting that this is what the people want.
The petition garnered over 91,000 signatures out of 1,50,000 required at change.org in just 4 days since the petition was first started on December 6, less than 48 hours after the Mon civilian killings by the Indian Armed Forces.
“Under the guise of ‘maintaining order,’ this act enables the Indian Army deployed in the state of Nagaland to shoot or arrest anybody suspected of being a militant. The atrocities committed by the armed forces far outweigh the good they set out to achieve,” reads the petition.
“The cries of sorrow and grief ring throughout the state of Nagaland. We mourn over the multitude of innocent lives lost over this futile act passed by the parliament. Now is the time to act and come together as citizens of India to bring permanent change for peace. REPEAL AFSPA,” it reads further.
“After the recent news, that happened in Mon district, I decided to do my part and come up with something so I started a petition on Change.org. I believe now would be the perfect time for Nagas to let our voices be heard,” Rosang Pongener, the freelance writer who started the petition told EastMojo.
“I strongly believe that the AFSPA does not belong in a democracy, that is how I feel and that’s how most Nagas feel,” Rosang added.
The petitioner is no political leader or activist, neither is he in touch with activists; just a regular citizen who thought this petition could help bring about change and the petition has seen immense response from the people.
“Army has misused the act of this special power and instead of giving security and protection, they have killed and raped innocent civilians and have gotten away with it!” said Vikesa Keditsu, another resident of Kohima, Nagaland that signed the petition.
“I’m signing this petition because as a native Indian from Northeastern state, the GOI regard us as a disturbed area but we live in harmony and peace and spreading peace and love to every religion and caste. We the People of Nagaland demand to repeal AFSPA in our state,” said Ambo Awomi, a resident of Imphal who also signed the petition.
Another civilian, Gankhu Pansa of Imphal, who signed this petition started by Rosang cited his reason to do so as such, “Killing innocent people is not the duty of the Army, any citizens of the world will not tolerate this type of activity. Take appropriate action to that Army personnel who killed the konyad brothers.”
Among the signatories were people from across the northeast, but most people from Nagaland and the state of Manipur, which has borne the brunt of the act for the longest time in Indian history.
The Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958, is an act of the Parliament of India which gives the armed forces of India the liberty to kill civilians without any repercussions or legal action as long as they find someone ‘suspicious’.
In a horrific incident, several villagers were killed by security forces after being mistaken for insurgents on the Tiru-Oting road near Oting village in Mon district of Nagaland on December 4. A security force jawan also died in the incident.
Protests broke out across the northeast region soon after the incident demanding AFSPA to be removed from the states of the region with Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma and Nagaland CM Neiphiu Rio reiterating the demands of civilians, student bodies and the people of the northeast.
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