As outrage continues to build up over the alleged killing of civilians by the armed forces in an anti-insurgency operation in Nagaland, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma has on Monday (December 6) joined the chorus in the north-east for the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act [AFSPA].
AFSPA should be repealed
— Conrad Sangma (@SangmaConrad) December 6, 2021
Many civil society groups, rights activists and political leaders of the north-east region have been asking for the withdrawal of the “draconian” law for years, alleging excesses by security forces with impunity under the cover of the Act. The AFSPA confers special powers on the armed forces in areas deemed as disturbed.
The AFSPA is currently in force in Assam, Nagaland, Manipur (excluding Imphal Municipal Council area), Arunachal Pradesh’s Changlang, Longding, Tirap districts and areas falling within the of eight police stations at the Assam border.
In an interview, Conrad Sangma said that he would personally urge Union Home Minister Amit Shah to repeal AFSPA. “Will personally take it up with Amit Shah. Coalition is a different issue, matters like these are a different issue,” said Conrad Sangma. Though Sangma’s NPP is part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), he said, “We as a party and as an individual feel it should be repealed. My father had the same stand too.”
After what happened in Nagaland’s Mon, Conrad Sangma pointed out such laws do not have a place in society today and said ‘AFSPA must go’. On asked about such incidents causing fissures in the alliance, Sangma said that they will maintain their stand even being in the NDA. “There should be communication and efforts to resolve them,” he told India Today.
Meanwhile, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) too demanded that the Union Home Minister Amit Shah immediately convene a meeting of the CMs of the northeastern states on the problems related to Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA). The issue should be resolved through dialogue and “not through domination and interference in the jurisdiction of the states”, said senior TMC leader Sushmita Dev.
“It is imperative that the Centre set up a committee to see if AFSPA is working in this country or not. The killing of civilians Nagaland incident by security forces has put a question mark over the Act. We demand that Amit Shah Ji immediately convene a meeting of all the chief ministers of the north-eastern states and discuss the issue of AFSPA,” Dev told the media.
Dev said that this incident has proved that Union Home Minister Amit Shah has failed to perform his duty of providing security to the citizens of the country. “The Union Home Minister Amit Shah has completely failed to provide security to the citizens of this country,” she asserted.
The TMC leader took the opportunity to take a potshot at the Centre’s recent decision to increase BSFs jurisdiction by about 50 kms from the border. (The TMC has been actively opposing this move) Referring to the issue of extending the BSF’s jurisdiction, she said, “The killings in Nagaland in the botched anti-insurgency operation proved how things can go wrong if the Centre intervenes in the state’s jurisdiction.”
Also, Dev said that the TMC delegation will not be visiting the Nagalands Mon district, where the killings occured, as announced earlier, due to the prohibitory orders in force in the area at present. A five-member TMC delegation comprising of MPs Prasun Banerjee, Aparupa Poddar, Santanu Sen and party spokesperson Biswajit Deb besides Dev was scheduled to visit Mon.
“We will visit the area once the prohibitory orders are withdrawn. TMC stands by the families of those killed in the firing”, she said. Meanwhile, West Bengal CM Minister Mamata Banerjee too has demanded a thorough investigation into the killing of the civilians by the security forces on Saturday.
The Hynniewtrep Youth Council (HYC) also appealed for the withdrawal of AFSPA to enable a peaceful north-east. “We call upon the government of India to reign in their Armed Forces if they really wish the peace to prevail in the region as incidents like these will only bring instability, which is not a good sign for the region as a whole,” HYC general secretary Roykupar Synrem said.