Protesters Demand Repeal of Armed Forces Act In India's Nagaland State
A botched anti-insurgency operation and retaliatory violence resulted in the death of 14 civilians over the weekend in the Indian state of Nagaland on the easternmost fringes of India near the border with Myanmar.
Days after civilians perished during a bungled security operation in Nagaland, north-eastern state chiefs, activists, and opposition parties are protesting and seeking the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), 1958 - a law granting impunity to security forces operating in the area - be repealed.
India's north-eastern state of Nagaland has been declared a "disturbed area" by the federal Home Ministry under the AFSPA, which empowers security forces to conduct operations anywhere and arrest anyone without prior notice.
The AFSPA, passed in 1958, is in force in three north-eastern states - Nagaland and Assam and some parts of Manipur. It was repealed in the neighbouring state Meghalaya in April 2018. It is also in effect in Jammu and Kashmir on the other side of the country.
Sputnik talked to the Nagaland Youth Congress vice-president about his concerns during a protests which took place in Nagaland's district Mon. "It's one of the most atrocious Acts which takes away individuals' freedom. This is not the first time the armed forces have killed individuals in the state - in the name of AFSPA, the death of many innocents went unreported", Sandemo Y Ngullie, vice-president of Nagaland youth Congress, said.
"We're holding a protest in the state urging the national ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to revoke the AFSPA. Our demand should not be seen as political. All student organisations, political parties, including BJP ally are demanding it," Ngullie added.
The state of Nagaland has seen protests against the armed forces since Sunday, a day after six villagers were killed by security forces.
Later, angry villagers attacked army camps which led to the death of seven more people - six civilians and one soldier - in the clashes.
One more villager died during a violent confrontation between the two sides on Sunday.
On Monday, Nagaland state chief Neiphiu Rio urged the federal government to lift the AFSPA from Nagaland.
In a tweet, Meghalaya state chief Conrad Sangma demanded that the AFSPA be repealed.
AFSPA should be repealed— Conrad Sangma (@SangmaConrad) December 6, 2021
Both the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (to which Nagaland's chief Rio belongs) and the National People's Party of Meghalaya's state chief Sangma, are allies of the federally ruling BJP.
On Monday, several Naga armed groups, civil society groups and politicians, including the BJP leader in Nagaland, condemned the killings and protested against the armed forces.