Kohima: The Congress and the Naga People’s Front on Thursday denounced the Centre’s decision to extend the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) in parts of Nagaland.
Criticising the Central government for extending the AFSPA for another six months in the northeastern state, Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) president K Therie said since there was a complete ceasefire with all the Naga political groups and talks were on to find a solution to the Naga political issue, there was no requirement for a “draconian” law like AFSPA.
On October 1, the AFSPA was extended in nine districts of Nagaland Dimapur, Niuland, Chumoukedima, Mon, Kiphire, Noklak, Phek, Peren, and Zunheboto and 16 police station areas in four other districts Kohima, Mokokchung, Longleng, and Wokha.
They (the Central government and Naga negotiators) should settle the Naga issue and not keep the solution in cold storage, Therie said, adding that enforcement of AFSPA is a meaningless provocation .
The Centre has been holding separate talks with the NSCN(IM) since 1997 and the Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) since 2017. It signed the framework agreement with the NSCN(IM) in 2015 and an Agreed Position with NNPG in 2017.
However, no final solution has been achieved to date with the NSCN(IM) remaining firm on its demand for a separate flag and constitution for the Nagas.
Denouncing the extension of the Act in parts of Nagaland, NSF president Kegwayhun Tep and general secretary Siipuni Ng. Philo said, “We condemn the overarching approach of the central government in extending the draconian AFSPA for another six months under the pretext of law and order problem in major parts of Nagaland.”
Describing the extension of the Act in parts of Nagaland as uncalled for, NPF Legislature Party leader Kuzholuzo Nienu alias Azo said, “AFSPA is imposed only when there is lawlessness and insurgency problem but now the law and order situation in Nagaland is peaceful by and large everything is so good. Therefore the extension of the Act in Nagaland is uncalled for.”
Naga civil societies, including Naga Hoho, also condemned the decision to extend the Act in parts of Nagaland.
The AFSPA empowers security forces to conduct operations and arrest anyone without any prior warrant besides giving immunity from arrest and prosecution to the security forces if they shoot someone dead.
Asserting that the draconian law must go away from our land, Naga Hoho general secretary K Elu Ndang said there cannot be true peace and mutual respect through the barrel of a gun.
We look forward with hope for a peaceful resolution to the Naga political issue. However, with AFSPA in place, there cannot be a true spirit of peace and tranquility, Ndang said.
Naga Mothers’ Association (NMA) advisor Rosemary Dziivichii said that for sustainable peace there was no place for AFSPA.
As mothers, we are very disappointed with the extension of the AFSPA in the state and other Naga areas, in the midst of peace negotiations and despite appeals for the repeal of this Act.
By extending the AFSPA in parts of the northeastern state, an attempt has been made to paint the state as a land of lawlessness and chaos, the Naga Students’ Federation had alleged.
Following the December 4 incident in Oting village of Mon district where security forces had gunned down 13 civilians, the Naga civil societies and the state government had been demanding revocation of AFSPA from Nagaland.
For the first time since the imposition of the Act on Nagaland, the Centre on March 31 announced to withdraw AFSPA from seven of its 16 districts.
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