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Nagaland Assembly should reflect the voice of people: Rio

CM speaking at 10th sesion of 13th NLA

Says extension of AFSPA in Nagaland not required

KOHIMA, DECEMBER 20: The Nagaland Legislative Assembly (NLA) is the democratically elected representative of the people and its members are duty bound and responsible to reflect the voice of the people and carry the aspirations of the masses, said Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio.
In his concluding remarks during the 1-day special session of the State Assembly held today to discuss Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) 1958 and its application in Nagaland, Rio said the entire Naga society has been calling for the repeal of AFSPA and that voice is at its loudest today.
“This House must sound the desire of the people to repeal this undemocratic and draconian law”, said Rio while urging all Members of the August House to unite in one voice and send out a clear and loud message to the world that Nagas do not want to see this Act anymore.
“Let us tell the world that Nagas want to stand for democracy, justice and truth”, he pleaded.
Also saying that Nagas need true peace to realise lasting political solution of Naga political issue, he said impediments like the AFPSA must be removed so that hurdles which are in the way for lasting peace are removed.
Removing AFPSA will also contribute towards confidence-building, strengthening trust and removing the feeling of alienation in the people’s mind, he said.
He said Nagas have made significant contributions towards the nation-building process and Naga people, especially the youth, are keen to continue making efforts to strengthen the foundations of the country.
Therefore, it is all the more crucial to make every effort to build confidence and trust and remove the negative impediments, he said.
Ex-gratia and employment to the next of kin of the deceased families has been assured by the Central Government, he said while announcing that in case the families of the deceased prefer a job in the State Government, “We are ready to give Grade III or Grade IV as per their qualification. Medical expenditure for all the injured will be borne by the State”.
Rio asserted that the special session of the Assembly was held to tell the Government of India (GoI) in stronger terms that the State Government does not want Nagaland to be declared as a ‘disturbed area’ any more.
The horrible mistake committed by the Security Forces in Oting recently while operating under the cover of the AFSPA will soften their stand and convince them of the need for repealing AFSPA, he hoped.
Meanwhile, the Chief Minister appealed to the citizens of Mon district and its civil societies to extend cooperation to the Government and its agencies in the collective efforts to restore normalcy in the interest of all citizens.
The Government appreciates and supports the demand of the citizens and civil society in their demand for justice, he said, while appealing to all sections to follow democratic norms in our collective endeavour towards realisation of justice.
The Chief Minister also condemned the killing of 14 innocent civilians in Oting-Tiru area in Mon District and the causing of serious injuries to many more.
Expressing that Naga people have been voicing out for peace and crying for an early political solution, he said it is paramount that the people’s voice and cry be heard and implemented as early as possible.
“Let us hope that the recent death of 14 innocent Naga civilians at the hands of the army will not go in vain”, said Rio while also praying that such ugly incidents do not recur again.
Meanwhile, Rio highlighted that the AFSPA had its origin in the Naga Political Issue, and the armed insurrection that followed. It was enacted by Parliament in 1958 in order to give the Indian Security Forces certain special powers to deal with Naga armed insurgency and it was in force only in the then Naga Hills District of Assam.
Later on, one by one, it spread to other North Eastern States. At present, it is still in force in Nagaland State, Assam, Manipur (excluding Imphal Municipal Area), and the Naga inhabited districts of Arunachal Pradesh, namely, Changlang, Longding and Tirap. It is also in force in some areas of Arunachal Pradesh, bordering Assam. Outside the Northeast, it has been in force in Jammu & Kashmir since 1990, he said.
There have been many instances of misuse or abuse of the provisions of the AFSPA at the hands of the Security Forces while carrying out their operations in Nagaland and other parts of the Northeastern States particularly in Manipur and Assam, he said.
“We should also remember that repealing AFSPA will take some time as it will require parliamentary approval. Meanwhile, we need to convince the Government of India that the present situation in Nagaland does not require or justify declaring the State as a ‘disturbed area’ for the purpose of imposing the provisions of the AFSPA”, he said.
He also cited that the GoI and all Naga Political Groups (excepting one Myanmar based NSCN-K Yung Aung faction) are currently engaged in political dialogue to resolve the long-pending Naga Political Issue and are under cease-fire agreements.
The ceasefire agreements are working well, so much so that there has been no major or significant aimed clash or conflict between the Indian Security Forces and the armed cadres of the Naga Political Groups in Nagaland during the last many years, he said. Nonetheless, Rio pointed out that in Maoists-affected areas in some other States, there have been much more bloody armed conflicts with much higher death tolls in recent years, as compared to Nagaland and other States of the North East.
But the Centre does not want to impose AFSPA in these Maoists affected areas and relies on State police forces and CPMF to deal with the situation, he remarked.
The Chief Minister therefore said there is no reason why it cannot do the same in Nagaland and other NE States to deal with a much less volatile situation.
In view of the improved situations in Nagaland, the State Government has been consistently taking the stand that there is no need for declaring Nagaland as a ‘disturbed area’.
“This has been our stand for the last more than 20 years”, he said, adding that the declaration of a State or any area as ‘disturbed area’ under Section 3 of the AFSPA is made by the Centre generally for a period of 6 months only at a time.
“Just on the eve of the expiry of the 6-month period, the GoI seeks the views and comments from the State Government. Every time, we have been taking the same stand, that there is no need or justification for extending the declaration of Nagaland as a disturbed area”, he said.
Nonetheless, the Chief Minister lamented that every time the views and objections of the State Government are ignored, the declaration is renewed again and again for the last many years.
Maintaining that the current declaration of Nagaland as ‘Disturbed Area’ is going to expire by the end of this month, Rio hoped that this time the Central Government will heed to the voice of the State, and decide not to renew or extend it any more.
(Page News Service)