Amid nixing call, AFSPA extended in Nagaland | India News – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: Days after it set up a committee to review the application of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Nagaland, and amid calls for its scrapping as the Manipur elections approach, the Centre has declared the entire state as a “disturbed area” under AFSPA for a further period of six months until June 30, 2022, in accordance with its security assessments.
Stating that the central government is of the opinion that the area comprising the whole of Nagaland “is in such a disturbed and dangerous condition that the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary”, the Centre, through a gazette notification issued on Thursday, declared the whole state to be a ‘disturbed area’ for a period of six months with effect from December 30, 2021. This is an extention of the ongoing AFSPA and does not bring any new areas under its jurisdiction.
The decision to continue the enforcement of AFSPA across the whole of Nagaland comes amid shrill demands to withdraw the Act from the state in view of the killing of over a dozen civilians in Mon district by 21 Para-Special Forces, allegedly due to “mistaken identity”. The Army and the Nagaland government have constituted separate inquiry teams to probe the incident.
Mon district is home to the Konyak tribe, one of the largest in Nagaland, and the December 4 tragedy in which the 21 Para SF killed 13 villagers of Oting in a botched counter-insurgency operation and its aftermath, spontaneously gave rise to renewed demand for withdrawal of the controversial Act that gives sweeping powers to the armed forces to “fire upon or otherwise use force, even to the causing of death” from the state and other states in the northeastern region. The Nagaland legislative assembly on December 20 unanimously resolved to demand that the government of India repeal the Act from the northeast, specifically from Nagaland.
In its reaction, the Naga People’s Front, which is a partner along with BJP in the ruling alliance, said it is “aghast” seeing the Centre again declaring the state as ‘disturbed area’. The influential Naga Student Federation said the extension of the Act is “an insult to the Nagas at this time of grief” and warned that it will start protests through a series of “democratic agitations”. The Naga Hoho said by extending the Act, the Centre has invited the wrath of the Naga people.
The Konyak Civil Society Organizations said the extension of AFSPA has “added salt to the wound” and alleged that the Union home ministry’s decision is “a total violation of human rights”.
“Adding salt to the wound, the declaration of extension of AFSPA is a calculated sign that undermines human dignity and value while the Konyaks are crying for justice. Tagging the region as disturbed when its people have totally denounced any form of violence and are yearning for peace… The Konyak CSOs outrightly state that the integrity of the nation cannot be achieved without people’s support and confidence,” the umbrella organisation of civil society groups said in a statement.
What has taken all by surprise is that just four days ago, the Centre, after a meeting chaired by home minister Amit Shah and attended by Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio, deputy CM Y Patton, NPF leader TR Zeliang and Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma in New Delhi, announced a six-member panel, headed by secretary (border management) in MHA Vivek Joshi and including Nagaland chief secretary, DGP and Assam Rifles as members, to “review the AFSPA in the state of Nagaland” and “make suitable recommendations within three months”.
Incidentally. this is the fourth committee set up by the Centre in the last 17 years to review the imposition of the draconian 1958 law in the northeast. It is expected to submit its report in 45 days. In the interim, since the validity of AFSPA was expiring on December 30, the Centre has extended the same for six more months to maintain continuity and also because it sees the situation in Nagaland as “disturbed and dangerous”. The situation in Nagaland and the recent ambush that resulted in the deaths of a colonel, his wife and son as well as other personnel, has underlined the threat of violent groups operating in NE with support systems in Myanmar and backers in Beijing as well.
AFSPA was enacted by Parliament in 1958 to tackle insurgency in the northeast. The Parliament also approved a ‘similar’ Armed Forces (Jammu & Kashmir) Special Powers Act in 1990.



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