Nagaland Assembly concerned by extension of AFSPA

Nagaland Assembly concerned by extension of AFSPA

Kohima, February 13: The Nagaland Assembly on Thursday expressed serious concern over the extension of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) by the Centre in the State despite the recommendations of the State Cabinet not extend it.
Opposition NPF legislator Imkong L Imchen raising the concern during the question hour lamented that over the years the Centre has been extending the ‘draconian law – AFSPA’ unilaterally even as the State Government has been objecting to its extension.
AFSPA directly infringes into the fundamental rights of the people while also damaging the basic structure of the Constitution, he said.
With the political talks between the Centre and Naga groups in progress at the highest level, why should the draconian law be enforced and extended time and again in Nagaland, he questioned.
Law and order is a state subject and when the Stat Cabinet says ‘NO’, why Centre does not accept it, Imchen wondered.
“AFSPA is terrifying and unmerciful to the citizens,” he said while calling on the need to discuss the issue by the 60-member House ‘very sincerely and seriously’.
Agreeing to the senior opposition MLAs suggestion, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said “this issue is very important as the people of the State have felt the effect”.
He reminded that initially Nagaland was put under Restricted Area Permit (RAP) but after its relaxation for sometime Protected Area Regime was notified, which was further relaxed but excluding those from China, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
He said the Naga political struggle was initially non-violent but later became violent and situation turned bad between ‘Naga army’ and Indian army which resulted in the imposition of AFSPA.
He also informed the House that every time the Home Ministry takes suggestion from the State Government while extending it but “just as formality”.
Every time suggestion is sought, the State Cabinet discusses and says there is no need to extent AFSPA or Disturbed Area Act, Rio said.
Nonetheless, the Leader of the House expressed fear that till such time the Naga political issue is resolved this (AFSPA) will remain while the Centre will automatically extend it.
Earlier, replying to MLA Dr Chumben Murry’s question, Deputy Chief Minister in-charge of Home, Y. Patton said that the entire area of the state of Nagaland has been excluded from the Protected Area Regime notified under the Foreigners (Protected Areas) Order 1958, initially for a period of one year with effect from 01.01.2011 which has been extended from time to time.
He said that relaxation has been extended till December 31, 2022 on condition that the Government of India can withdraw relaxation for security concern. Citizens of Afghanistan, China and Pakistan and foreign nationals from these countries need approval from the Ministry before they visit the state of Nagaland while foreigners visiting the state will have to register with foreigners registration officers of the state/districts, he said.
He added that there are 11 foreigners registration officers (FROs) in Nagaland namely the Commissioner of Police Dimapur and the offices of Superintendent of Police of Kohima, Mokokchung, Wokha, Phek, Peren, Zunheboto, Mon, Tuensang, Longleng and Kiphire districts.
When Murry asked if the exclusion from PAP was in the interest of the State, Patton replied ‘yes’. (Page News Service)