A committee will be formed to decide on withdrawing the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act from Nagaland, the state government said on Sunday. The panel will submit its report in 45 days.
AFSPA gives army personnel sweeping powers to search, arrest, and to open fire if they deem it necessary for “the maintenance of public order”.
Several members of civil society and tribal bodies have demanded the repeal of the Act after 14 civilians were killed by members of security forces in Nagaland’s Mon district on December 4.
The Nagaland government on Sunday said the decision to form the committee was taken during a meeting with Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday. Apart from Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, his Assam counterpart Himanta Biswa Sarma also took part in the discussions.
The meeting with Shah took place three days after the Nagaland Assembly unanimously passed a resolution urging the Centre to withdraw the AFSPA from the North East region, especially from Nagaland.
The resolution was passed condemning the killing of 14 civilians. In a first information report, the Nagaland Police had said that the Army’s 21 Para Special Force had fired with “intention to murder and injure” the civilians.
During the meeting with Shah on Thursday, it was decided that a Court of Enquiry will initiate disciplinary proceedings against the Army unit and personnel who are directly involved in the killings. Besides, the state will offer government jobs to the next of kin of the deceased.
Army’s 21 Para Special Force had opened fire at a pick-up van carrying coal miners from Tiru to Oting in Nagaland’s Mon district, killing six on board. They had apparently mistaken the group of workers for insurgents.
Angered by the killings, a crowd of protestors then set fire to the vehicles belonging to the Army. They opened fire again, killing seven more civilians.
The violence spilled over into December 5 after locals entered a camp of the Assam Rifles in the district headquarters of Mon. At least one more person was killed after security forces fired back at protestors.