Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio demanded the removal of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act or AFSPA, a day after more than a dozen villagers were shot and killed by soldiers in Nagaland.
Rio was attending the funeral of 14 civilians and one soldier killed in the firing at Oting in Mon district. Hundreds laid wreaths on the coffins of the dead, as Rio led a mass funeral service in the district of Mon, the site of the incident.
“Today, the whole world is criticising AFSPA and now the Nagaland government wants AFSPA to be withdrawn,” Neiphiu Rio said.
Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma has said that AFSPA should be repealed.
“AFSPA should be repealed,” read Sangma’s tweet.
14 civilians were killed in open firing by the Indian Army in Nagaland’s Oting village on Saturday. At least six people were killed after security forces fired at a truck carrying coal-mine workers, who were mistaken for “militants”. Seven more civilians were killed after local residents clashed with the security forces later on Saturday evening.
The Nagaland Police has lodged an FIR against the paramilitary forces, stating the intention of the security forces was to “murder and injure civilians.”
“At around 1530 hours, coal mine labourers of Oting village were returning to their native village Oting from Tiru in a vehicle Bolero pick up. On reaching at Longkhao between Upper Tiru and Oting village, security forces blankly opened fire at the vehicle without any provocation resulting to the killing of many Oting villagers and seriously injuring many others (sic),” read the FIR against 21st Para Military Force.
The AFSPA is a draconian law that gives Indian soldiers impunity in battling insurgencies in northeastern India and Kashmir Valley.
The law allows Indian forces to open fire to maintain public order in areas designated as “disturbed areas.”
The battle against the law is a long, bitter one.