Standing firm on repealing the draconian Armed Forces Special Act (AFSPA), Nagaland Chief Minister, Neiphiu Rio emphasised that they would not budge away from the unanimous resolution adopted in the state assembly on 20 December 2021, which demanded the repeal of AFSPA from the state.
Rio also added that though the Union Home Ministry had decided last December to extend the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA),1958, for another six months in Nagaland, the state government is firm on the resolution adopted in the House.
The AFSPA gives Army personnel deployed in conflict areas broad powers to search, arrest and open fire if they deem it necessary for “the maintenance of public order” in “disturbed areas.” It also provides soldiers with effective immunity from prosecution.
The AFSPA, enacted in 1958 as a short-term measure to allow deployment of the army to counter an armed separatist movement in the Naga Hills, has been in force for over 60 years. In addition to Nagaland, it is currently used in Manipur, Assam, and parts of Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.
The demand for withdrawal of the controversial Act from the state has increasingly come after the killing of 14 civilians and several injured in three separate incidents of firing by security forces on 4 December and 5 in Oting, Mon district following a case of ‘mistaken identity’.
Following the civilian killings by Armed forces, on December 23 Union Home Minister, Amit Shah met with Nagaland and Assam Chief Minister, Neiphiu Rio and Himanta Biswa Sarma along with Nagaland Deputy Chief Minister Y Patton, and Naga Peoples’ Front Legislature Party leader T R Zeliang and decided that there is a need for setting up a committee for reviewing the parliament act of AFSPA.
“We decided that though the system will be in place till the committee submits its recommendations, there will be no armed forces operations during the period,” Rio said.
The process of repealing the AFSPA, if recommended by the committee, will start following the submission of the panel’s report, he added.
Rio also said to PTI news agency that the probe team has completed its investigation on the Oting killing and is awaiting the final forensic report.
When asked on the demand for providing compensation of Rs 1 crore to the next of kin of the people who lost their lives and Rs 50 lakh each to the injured in the incidents of December 4 and 5, Rio said to PTI that “it has been communicated to the Union Home Ministry and the response is awaited.”