Kohima: The Nagaland government has demanded the repeal of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and will write to the Centre on this issue. This decision was taken at an urgent meeting of the Nagaland Cabinet here Tuesday. The AFSPA is a law that gives sweeping powers to the army in troubled regions.
“AFSPA gives powers to the Army to arrest civilians without any arrest, raid houses and also kill people. But there is no action against the security forces. They have created a law and order situation,” Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said.
The remarks assume significance as they are coming from Rio whose party is an ally of the BJP and part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, another BJP ally, had echoed the same view Monday.
In another development, the Cabinet of Rio decided to call off the ongoing Hornbill Festival in protest against the killing of 14 civilians by security forces, official sources said.
The 10-day Hornbill Festival is the state’s largest tourism extravaganza held annually at Naga Heritage Village in Kisama near the state capital. It was scheduled to end December 10.
The Nagaland government had cancelled the day’s event at the venue Monday. Several tribes from eastern Nagaland and other parts of the state had suspended all activities at their respective Morungs over the killing in Mon district.
Rio, while attending the funeral of the 14 civilians in Mon town Monday, had joined a growing chorus of demands seeking the repeal of AFSPA that gives special powers to security forces in ‘disturbed areas’.
In another development related to the killing of 14 civilians by the Army in a botched up operation, Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga has extended solidarity with the people of Nagaland. He prayed that justice prevails and peace returns soon. He said that he stands with the people of Nagaland in this hour of grief.
“Prayers for the lives lost and the unfortunate incident at Oting, Mon district, Nagaland. I stand with the people of Nagaland in this time of grief. Let justice prevails and, May peace be restored soon,” Zoramthanga tweeted late Monday night.