Nagaland assembly session in progress | Photo courtesy: DIPR, Nagaland

The Nagaland assembly, in a day-long special session on December 20, unanimously passed a resolution demanding the Centre to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958 from the entire Northeast, and specifically from Nagaland.

The 10th session of the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly was held on December 20 where the legislators first observed a two-minute silence in memory and honour of the 14 people killed at Oting-Tiru village area of Mon district on December 4 and 5.

Initiating the discussions on the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), deputy chief minister Y Patton stated that as per Section 3 of the AFSPA, 1958, the provisions of the act come into force in any area which gets declared as a ‘disturbed area’ by the central government or the governor of that state. He mentioned that the Union government has been declaring the entire state of Nagaland as a ‘disturbed area’ by issuing notifications every six months, and thereby keeping the provisions of AFSPA operative in the state for the past many decades.

“The latest notification issued by the Government of India was on June 30, 2021, and it is operational up till December 29, 2021,” he said.

He said the provisions of AFSPA, by its nature, scope and intent, gives undue and excessive powers to the security forces to take several coercive actions like search, seizure, arrest of suspected persons and use of firearms, even to the extent of causing death; for all the actions that may be taken by the personnel of the security forces, there is a great deal of immunity provided to them.

Patton pointed out that the power and immunity has led to many instances of gross abuse by the members of the security forces, over the years, the most recent being the ghastly firing incident in Oting-Tiru village area of Mon district which led to the loss of 14 lives.

Patton informed that the Union government seeks the opinion of the state government, before deciding on extending the notification for disturbed area in the state, every six months. “The state government has consistently opposed the notification declaring Nagaland as a disturbed area on the grounds that the overall law and order in Nagaland has been good for many years now,” he said.

Patton added that the sentiments of the people are strongly against the continuance of AFSPA anymore in the state. He urged each and every member of the house to unitedly call upon the Government of India to see the situation on the ground, listen to the voice of the people, and withdraw AFSPA from the state of Nagaland.

NPFLP leader and former chief minister TR Zeliang, taking part in the discussion, stated that no amount of reason can justify the killing of innocent civilians. He said that for a lasting peace in the region, AFSPA needs be repealed. Stating that justice delayed is justice denied, Zeliang called for justice to be delivered on time judiciously.

The former chief minister lamented at the absence of a State Human Rights Commission and to which he urged that necessary actions be initiated and the commission be set up at the earliest.

Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio, in his concluding remark on the one-day special discussion on the Armed Forces Special Power Act, thanked all the members who have participated in the discussion.

“We are duty bound and responsible to reflect the voice of the people and carry the aspirations of the masses. Entire Naga society has been calling for the repeal of AFSPA and that voice is at its loudest today. Even as we participate in this discussion, the entire state is eagerly waiting for the result of this special session and the contents of the resolutions we will adopt today,” chief minister Neiphiu Rio said.

“This house must sound the desire of the people. The desire of the people is to repeal this undemocratic and draconian law,” he added.

He also appealed to the citizens of Mon district and its civil societies to extend cooperation to the government and its agencies in their collective efforts to restore normalcy in the interest of all the citizens.

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