SIO calls for repeal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act
NEW DELHI – Killing of civilians by security forces in Nagaland’s Mon district on Saturday, December 4, has drawn sharp reactions from civil society groups. Besides, media reports suggest that locals have retaliated with violent protests in parts of Nagaland.
A video, reportedly from Mon, has emerged where a structure can be seen on fire, and a large number of people can be seen making an attempt to escape from its premises, to save their lives. Expressing their anger over the same, locals have attacked an Assam Rifles (paramilitary) camp in Mon district of the state. In the video from the site, locals can be seen destroying property at the camp.
Meanwhile, Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO) called the killing of civilians in Nagaland “a new low in the brutality of Armed forces”. In a statement SIO President Salman Ahmad said that his group “stands in solidarity with the families in these calamitous times and demands immediate action against the guilty, including prosecution under criminal law.”
Ahmad also called for repeal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act. “It is high time for laws like AFSPA, which grant the armed forces a virtual ‘license to kill’, to be completely repealed and rolled back. We as a society must also rethink the meaning of national security, and how this whole paradigm impacts the lives and security of actual people.”
Janhastakshep, a people’s intervention group, also condemned the “callous murder” of civilians in Nagaland. The group’s convener Vikas Bajpai said in a statement on Sunday that this operation is only one among a series leading to such loss of innocent civilian lives at the hands of the Indian security forces. The matter of fact is that it is not just the operations of the forces which are botched, but the very politics, policies, intent and the morality of India’s ruling elites which is botched in as much as it seeks to ensure the unity and integrity of the country by muzzling democratic aspirations of the people under the jackboot rather than aspiring for the unity of the hearts and minds of the various nationalities that comprise India.
In the instant case it is pertinent to note that despite the Modi government having signed the Naga peace accord on 3rd August 2015 with NSCN, there has been little meaningful progress towards facilitating the conditions on ground wherein the Naga people can realize their democratic aspirations. Instead, the Center’s nominee to the state, Governer RN Ravi has been busy issuing edicts aimed at further curtailing the democratic expression of their grievances by the people in the state.
The armed forces already enjoy full impunity for their actions under the provisions of draconian acts like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. The political and policy orientation of the present government at the Centre, by valorizing the high-handed criminal misconduct of the security forces, may it be in Northeast, Kashmir, or even in states like Uttar Pradesh, is bound to lend little credibility to the claims of ‘botched encounter’ in the eyes of the people in Nagaland or the vast masses waging valiant struggles in different parts of the country for realization of their democratic aspirations.
Janhastakshep demands a free and fair inquiry into the incident supervised by a credible authority and strictest possible punishment for those found guilty. Apart from this the onus lies on the Central and the State government of Nagaland to assuage the people of the state, and ensure fullest physical and economic security of the families of those killed in the incident.