Source: Times Now
Earlier this week, Home Minister Amit Shah had chaired a meeting with the Chief Ministers of Assam and Nagaland and other top leaders to discuss the present scenario in Nagaland. As per updates released by the government, a panel will be soon be instituted to look into the withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the state. The December 23 meeting comes against the backdrop of a violent altercation that took place in the Mon district, leading to the death of 14 people and injuries to several others.
As per the details released, the new committee will be chaired by the Additional Secretary (North East) of the Home Ministry and will also include the Chief Secretary and the Director-General of the Nagaland Police. “Other Members that will be included in the committee are IGAR (N) and representative of the CRPF. The Committee will submit its report within 45 days and withdrawal of Disturbed Area and AFSPA from Nagaland will be based on the recommendations of the committee,” the government press note added.
While a Court of Enquiry will initiate disciplinary proceedings against the army unit and army personnel directly involved in the firing incident, the Nagaland Delegation also impressed upon the Home Minister the need to replace the Assam Rifles unit in Mon with immediate effect. As per the government press release, those who will be facing the inquiry “will be placed under suspension with immediate effect”.
The state government will also provide jobs to the next of kin of the deceased.
Earlier this month, 14 civilians and one security personnel had been killed in related incidents after the army mistook coal mine workers returning home for insurgents and opened fire. The incident took place in the Oting – Tiru village area, killing six civilians and injuring the two remaining occupants of the car. Following this, angry locals had torched vehicles clashed with security personnel. At least 8 more civilians and one jawan had been killed, with soldiers claiming that they had fired in self-defence. Expressing regret over the incident in Parliament, Home Minister Shah had said that a Special Investigation Team will be completed within a month. And as Opposition leaders protested and called for the situation to be remedied, two northeastern Chief Ministers had issued calls for the law to be withdrawn. The Nagaland legislative had also unanimously adopted a resolution moved by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio to demand that the Central government repeal AFSPA from the Northeast on December 20.
Simply put, AFSPA is a law that gives security forces sweeping powers to maintain law and order in a disturbed area. It had been enacted by Parliament in 1958 to give the Indian security forces special powers to deal with Naga armed insurgency. Moving the resolution, the CM said that the state had recommended its withdrawal for the last 20 years, calling for Nagaland taken off the list of areas declared “disturbed areas”.
He explained that declaration of a state or any area as ‘disturbed area’ under Section 3 of the AFSPA is made by the Centre generally for six months only at a time. Before it expires, the Centre seeks the views and comments of the state on the issue. Rio contended that the objections of the state government had been ignored repeatedly with the declaration being renewed “again and again”. He had also noted that the current declaration of Nagaland as ‘Disturbed Area’ is going to expire by the end of this month.