Kohima: With the declaration of Nagaland as “disturbed area” for six more months, the state’s main Opposition party — the Naga People’s Front (NPF) on Friday said that it is “highly worrisome” and “dismayed” over the continued extension of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) which “might be interpreted as an attempt to exploit the long-suffering condition of the Naga people”.
The NPF, through a statement issued by its media cell on Friday, said that the party is dismayed to see the Central government’s order of extension of the Disturbed Area Act for another six months to the whole of Nagaland “when the whole of Naga people is expectant that the Central Government is seriously working for the final solution to the vexed Naga political problem”.
“The BJP’s election slogan, ‘election for solution’ had brought hope to the Naga people with a sigh of relief that the decades old Naga problem will come to a conclusion. However, even after a lapse of more than two years at the helm of affairs, the recent extension of Disturbed Area Act throughout the state clearly exhibits the callousness with which the BJP Government is dealing with the Naga people and its political problem,” the statement added.
It said that “declaring the whole of Nagaland state as disturb is highly worrisome” at a time “when the Government of India signed a Framework Agreement with the NSCN (I-M) on 3rd August 2015 and further strengthened the Process by bringing the NNPGs to the negotiating table” as the whole of Naga populace was hopeful for concluding the talks.
It slammed the BJP-led government for “repeatedly extending the draconian Act to the state, whereas, the imposition of the Act has had no tangible contribution to the Peace Process except to create an environment of distrust and an overwhelming feeling of being oppressed in the minds of the Naga people”.
“The Naga people have been extending unstinted support to the Indo-Naga peace process since the Ceasefire in 1997 and have been asking the Government of India to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act or at least lift it from Naga areas so as to create a conducive atmosphere for the peace Negotiations to take place,” the statement from the part added.
It said that the continued extension of the act “might be interpreted as an attempt to exploit the long-suffering condition of the Naga people to impose a forced Accord on us, instead of a mutually agreed and negotiated settlement”. It furhter urged the BJP led Government to “exhibit its sincerity and expedite for a speedy conclusion to the vexed Naga political problem”.
In February this year, Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio said that the state will continue to remain a ‘disturbed area’ under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) till the Naga political issue is resolved. The response was made by the chief minister on the floor of the fifth session of the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly (NLA) when MLA Imkong L Imchen raised concern about the extension of the ‘draconian’ law in the state.
“To what we are informed is, till Naga political issue is resolved, this will remain. Whether we request them, whether we take decision not to extend or to extend, they will take their own unilateral decision and they automatically extend. The public feels that the cabinet is not taking a strong stand and not objecting and preventing for extension. Law and order is a state subject, but the political issue which the government of India has recognized –our Naga issue –is not law and order, it is a political issue. Therefore, till our Naga issue is resolved with the government of India (GoI), this may continue,” the chief minister had said.