Oting ambush: Demand for AFSPA repeal gets louder in NE

Three days after the incident, Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio said on December 6 that his government has asked the Centre to remove the AFSPA from the state.



The killing of 14 civilians in Nagaland’s Mon district in a counter-insurgency operation and retaliatory violence has again renewed calls for the repeal of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958.

Three days after the incident, Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio said on December 6 that his government has asked the Centre to remove the AFSPA from the state.

“I’ve spoken to the Union home minister and he is taking the matter very seriously. We’ve given financial assistance to affected families. I have also urged the Centre to remove AFSPA from Nagaland as the law is a black spot on the image of the country,” Rio told reporters after attending the funeral services of the civilians at Oting.

AFSPA confers special powers on the armed forces in areas deemed “disturbed”.  In a 'disturbed area' a military officer can fire upon an unlawful assembly of five or more people if the need arises or even for illegal possession of fire arms.

The Parliament had passed the bill on 11 September, 1958, to enable certain special powers to be conferred upon members of the armed forces in 'disturbed areas' of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura.

Reacting sharply to the incident, Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K. Sangma also demanded the repeal of the draconian act from the Northeast).

“AFSPA should be repealed,” Sangma said in a tweet.

Sangma is the president of the National People’s Party (NPP), which is a part of the NDA.


Meghalaya Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) also supported Sangma, urging him to convene a meeting for consultation over the issue. "We must go all out to demand immediate repeal of this draconian oppression on our people. Kindly convene a consultation at the earliest," Congress MLA Ampareen Lyngdoh tweeted in reply to Sangma.

North East Students' Organisation (NESO), an umbrella body of eight students' unions of the Northeast, said the Centre should repeal the law if it is concerned about the welfare and well-being of the people of the northeast.

"...otherwise it will only further alienate the people of the region," NESO chairman Samuel B Jyrwa said.

"The armed forces have been operating in the Northeast with impunity and they are further emboldened with the imposition of a draconian law known as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958 (AFSPA)."

The Hynniewtrep Youth Council (HYC) also demanded that the AFSPA be withdrawn for building a peaceful northeast. "We call upon the Government of India to rein 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.

"Steps should be taken towards building a peaceful North-East and the correct and necessary steps towards achieving full peace is to withdraw or Repeal the AFSPA from the Region completely as well as deployment or stationing Armed Forces to the bare minimum," he said.

Voicing concern, the Khasi Students' Union (KSU) said the government should formulate laws to safeguard the rights of the indigenous people. "The Government of India should immediately revoke the monstrous AFSPA and instead formulate laws to safeguard and protect the rights and existence of the indigenous inhabitants of Northeast," it said in a statement.

KSU president Lambok Marngar said the government should take stringent and harsh action against the "erring and bloodthirsty" personnel involved in the civilian killings in Nagaland.

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ALSO READ: Mass funeral service for 14 killed by security forces in Mon, Rio demands AFSPA repeal