AFSPA in Nagaland: Naga People’s Front expresses shock at Centre’s apathy

The Naga People’s Front (NPF) on December 30 said that it “is aghast and affronted” to learn about the extension of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Nagaland for another six months.

The Centre, through a gazette notification on December 30, extended the powers conferred by section 3 of the AFSPA in the entire state of Nagaland for six more months.

The extension is an immediate aftermath of the December 23 meeting convened by the Union home minister Amit Shah with Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio and Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, that also included Nagaland deputy CM Y Patton and the leader of the NPF legislature TR Zeliang, wherein, the Centre instituted a committee to examine the withdrawal of AFSPA in Nagaland.

The NPF said that it is a case of adding further insult to injury.

In a statement, the NPF alleged that this extension of the act is a manifestation of the utter disregard the central government has for the voices of small states, particularly in Northeast India, considering that the Nagaland Legislative Assembly had convened a special one-day session on December 20 to deliberate on AFSPA and the house had unanimously resolved to demand its repeal.

The statement of the NPF also said: “It may be mentioned that, Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio, deputy chief minister Y Patton and the leader of the NPF legislature TR Zeliang had issued a signed statement in a press conference after the December 23 meeting expressing gratitude to the Union home minister Amit Shah for ‘taking the matter with utmost seriousness and positively responding to the voices of the people.’”

It added that any discerning person is made to wonder if there is any modicum of co-ordination or even communication between the executive and legislative branches of the central government.

They had further lauded the “restraint and maturity” exhibited by the Nagas by stating that “the democratic and peaceful nature of the civil society groups, tribal hohos and mass- based organisations in our collective quest for justice and truth has been well received and has created a positive image of the Naga people to the rest of the global community.”

However, the NPF said it is convinced that “this restraint and maturity” must be reciprocated in a positive way by repealing undemocratic legislations and oppressive laws. It added that the continued extension of AFSPA is nothing but an attempt to exploit the long suffering of the Naga people.

The NPF then said that when the December 4, 2021 Oting incident where “Indian armed forces killed innocent civilians is still fresh in the minds of the people with cries for justice by the whole of Naga people including the entire Northeast region and demanded for revoking AFSPA, the announcement of extension of Disturbed Area Act for another six months is nothing but purely adding more salt to the already wounded injury”.

The NPF then said that it is committed to the removal of the AFSPA from “all the Naga area” and affirmed that it will continue to pursue all democratic means to achieve the same. The NPF asserted that it will not stay idle till the central government reconsiders its decision.

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