Centre is considering Nagaland’s demand to remove AFSPA from state, says CM Neiphiu Rio
The law gives Army personnel sweeping powers to search, arrest, and to open fire if they deem it necessary for ‘maintaining public order’.
The Union government is considering Nagaland’s demand for the removal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act from the state, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said on Wednesday, according to PTI.
The chief minister added that the state government hoped to receive a positive decision soon.
Rio made the statement while speaking at a Republic Day function at the Civil Secretariat in Kohima.
AFSPA gives Army personnel sweeping powers to search, arrest, and to open fire if they deem it necessary for “the maintenance of public order”.
He noted that AFSPA was imposed in the state as a result of the Naga insurgency in the 1950s, The Telegraph reported. “Since then, six decades have passed,” he said. “There has been ceasefire with the various Naga political groups since the last nearly two and a half decades and this has improved law and order in the state.”
Rio said that talks between Naga political groups and the Centre are taking place in a cordial atmosphere. He noted that all the MLAs in the state came together to form an opposition-less government to send a message that the state wanted an inclusive and acceptable resolution.
On December 30, AFSPA was extended in Nagaland for six months, despite the Nagaland Assembly having passed a resolution urging the Centre to withdraw the law from the region. A Union government notification had claimed that the state was in a “disturbed, dangerous condition” and thus, the use of armed forces to help the civil power was essential.
On Wednesday, Rio also brought up the killing of 14 civilians by security forces in Mon district last month, and said that a Special Investigation Team looking into the case has made good progress.
Rio expressed confidence that the families of those who were killed will get justice. “We are taking every measure to lessen the pain of the family members, who lost their near and dear ones, as well as of all those who suffered injuries,” he said.
The chief minister noted that after the killings, the state Cabinet decided to take up the demand for the repeal of AFSPA with the Centre.
On December 4, the Army’s 21 Para Special Force had opened fire at a pick-up van carrying coal miners from Tiru to Oting, killing six on board. They had apparently mistaken the group of workers for insurgents.
Angered by the killings, a crowd of protestors had then set fire to the vehicles belonging to the Army. They had opened fire again, killing seven more civilians. At least one more person was killed on December 5 after security forces fired back at protestors.
Several Naga organisations in Nagaland and Manipur had urged people not to take part in Republic Day celebrations on Wednesday to protest against the killings.