After civilian killings, Nagaland and Meghalaya CMs call for AFSPA to be repealed

The Chief Minister of Nagaland said that the law “has blackened the image of our country.”
Two vehicles on fire in the night after the Nagaland killings
Two vehicles on fire in the night after the Nagaland killings
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Days after over 13 civilians were killed in Nagaland after a security operation went wrong, two chief ministers from the northeastern states have called for the draconian AFSPA (Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958), to be repealed. The party in power in Meghalaya, the National People’s Party, is an ally of the BJP. In Nagaland, CM Neiphiu Rio-led People’s Democratic Alliance also counts the BJP as a member of the coalition.

Speaking at the funeral of the deceased, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio told the media that he spoke to Union Home Minister Amit Shah about the killings. “We're asking the Union government to remove AFSPA from Nagaland. This law has blackened the image of our country.”

Similarly, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on Monday, December 6, said that the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958 should be repealed as he joined the growing chorus for withdrawal of the law amid the civilian killings in Nagaland. "AFSPA should be repealed," tweeted Sangma, whose NPP is an ally of the BJP.

Civil society groups, rights activists and political leaders of the Northeast region have been demanding the withdrawal of the "draconian" law for years, alleging excesses by security forces with impunity under the cover of the Act. AFSPA confers special powers on the armed forces in areas deemed as disturbed. The state Congress also supported the chief minister, urging him to convene a meeting for consultation over the issue.

"We must go all out to demand immediate repeal of this draconian oppression on our people. Kindly convene a consultation at the earliest," Congress MLA Ampareen Lyngdoh tweeted in reply to Sangma.

The AFSPA is in force in Assam, Nagaland, Manipur (excluding Imphal Municipal Council area), Arunachal Pradesh's Changlang, Longding, Tirap districts and areas falling within the of eight police stations at the Assam border.

The Hynniewtrep Youth Council (HYC) also demanded that the AFSPA be withdrawn for building a peaceful Northeast.

"We call upon the Government of India to reign in their Armed Forces if they really wish the peace to prevail in the Region as incidents like these will only bring instability, which is not a good sign for the region as a whole," HYC general secretary Roykupar Synrem said.

"Steps should be taken towards building a peaceful North-East and the correct and necessary steps towards achieving full peace is to withdraw or Repeal the AFSPA from the Region completely as well as deployment or stationing Armed Forces to the bare minimum," he said.

Voicing concern, the Khasi Students Union (KSU) said the government should formulate laws to safeguard the rights of the indigenous people.

"The Government of India should immediately revoke the monstrous AFSPA and instead formulate laws to safeguard and protect the rights and existence of the indigenous inhabitants of NE India," it said in a statement.

KSU president Lambok Marngar said the government should take stringent and harsh action against the "erring and bloodthirsty" personnel involved in the civilian killings in Nagaland's Mon district.

At least 14 civilians and a soldier were killed in a botched anti-insurgency operation and retaliatory violence over the weekend in Mon district of Nagaland, as per police.

The Nagaland government on Sunday announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh each to the families of the 13 people killed. The state government also decided to set up a High Level Special Investigation Team (SIT) led by an IGP level officer to probe the incident that took place on Saturday evening, according to an official statement.

With PTI inputs

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