New Delhi: The Trinamool Congress on Wednesday submitted a memorandum to Union Home Minister Amit Shah alleging his statement in Parliament over the Nagaland firing incident has “failed to raise alarm over the blatant misuse of AFSPA” and stressed that law cannot be used to “murder” citizens.
Fourteen civilians were killed in related incidents of firing in the restive state on Saturday and Sunday. The first of these incidents was a case of mistaken identity. One soldier also died in rioting which followed.
In his statement in Parliament on Monday, Shah expressed regret over the Nagaland firing incident and said a probe by a Special Investigation Team will be completed within a month while asserting that all agencies must ensure such happenings do not recur while taking action against insurgents.
Acknowledging Shah’s regret, the TMC in the memorandum said it is “shocking” that not a word was mentioned about the compensation for the bereaved families. “We demand that the quantum of compensation be decided forthwith to the satisfaction of the families of the victims,” it stated.
“Your statement fails to express any alarm or concern at the blatant misuse of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) which is in operation in Nagaland, Assam, Manipur, parts of Arunachal Pradesh, Kashmir and certain other areas.
“It is imperative that we tackle the problem at the very root, without which we will not be able to alleviate the dire situation and arrive at a viable, permanent solution. Innocent civilians losing their lives in any country is a shame,” the memorandum stated.
The memorandum, signed by 32 TMC MPs, stressed on recognising that “AFSPA cannot be used to murder our fellow citizens. This is a tragedy beyond proportion and a collective shame”.
It referred to several instances where precedents have been set by punishing security personnel found involved in similar incidents. It mentioned the Hegde Commission of 2013 which had observed that the AFSPA was an impediment to achieving peace in regions such as Jammu and Kashmir and the northeast.
The TMC observed that it had suggested fixing a three-month time frame for the Central government to decide whether to prosecute the security personnel engaged in “extrajudicial killings or unruly behaviour in insurgency-hit regions.
It also said in July 2016, the Supreme Court revoked the immunity provided by the Act and declared that “there is no concept of automatic immunity from trial by a criminal court”.
“The latest incident at the Oting village of Nagaland bears testament to the horrendous possibilities of AFSPA being repeatedly missed. The killing of these 14 individuals demonstrates a total lack of accountability. This is not the time for cover-ups or any effort to save face. The truth must prevail.
“The incident at Mon not only warrants a timely investigation into the events of December 4 and 5 but calls for an examination of the role of AFSPA in the repeated instances of attacks on innocent civilians,” the memorandum said.
It also said that it is time the Centre outlines its policy for a progressive approach to human rights.
In the memorandum, the TMC also raised the issue of extending the jurisdiction of the Border Security Force.
“These missives and excesses that are now claiming lives of innocents in broad daylight without cause, concern or even accountability, show that regret and investigation are only temporary is to paper over the cracks that the AFSPA has left in over 60 years of its existence.
“The alleged misuse and exploitation of AFSPA have been the cause of human rights violations in the Northeast for the longest time. It has cost civilians their lives, women from the Northeast their dignity and seriously disturbed the general peacefulness of the region, the memorandum stated.
It added, “There is a strong perception that the AFSPA is draconian legislation that can be misused. We demand that the government comes clear with its position on AFSPA and addresses the ambiguity arising out of it. The government should also ensure that AFSPA’s main objective is used to protect civilians not to kill them.”
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