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India

AFSPA Extension In Nagaland Even As State Government Requested Its Repeal  

The Ministry of Home Affairs’ notification, extending the powers from October 1 to March 30 next year, comes over nine months after the Nagaland Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution in December, demanding the repeal of the Act.  

Representative Image. (Image : ANI)
Representative Image. (Image : ANI)

In reaction to the Central government extending the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in nine districts of Nagaland, the Home Minister, Y Patton, tells India Ahead that the state government had “every time” requested the Centre to remove the special powers to armed forces from the state.  

The Ministry of Home Affairs’ notification, extending the powers from October 1 to March 30 next year, comes over nine months after the Nagaland Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution in December, demanding the repeal of the Act.  

Patton, who is from the BJP, maintains that “Every time state government would request government of India to lift the AFSPA in the entire state of Nagaland. They lifted around 15-16 locations… We had requested for all, but in the wisdom of the government they have imposed again in these districts.” 

Importantly, the extension of AFSPA also comes when the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) resumed its peace talks with the Central government. The group had also said that no talks would be meaningful under the shadow of AFSPA.  

Their statement as well as the unanimous resolution by the Nagaland Assembly had come after 14 persons were killed in the Oting-Tiru village area of Mon district allegedly by Assam Rifles and the Indian Army. It started with the killing of six miners, while they were travelling in a pick-up, in what was apparently a case of mistaken identity. 

Mon district, happens to be one of the nine districts where the AFSPA has been extended, including in districts of Dimapur, Niuland, Chumoukedima, Kiphire, Noklak, Phek, Peren and Zunheboto. 

Patton, however added that the decision was made even as the situation in the State is “very normal and very peaceful”. Under section 3 of AFSPA, powers to declare areas to be ‘disturbed areas’ are with the Governor of that State or the administrator of the Union Territory or the Central Government.  

He also told India Ahead with respect to the talks between the NSCN-IM and the Centre: “When the talks were in full swing with the NSCN-IM and other political groups; and anytime political settlement may arise we would request to not impose again, but it’s their wisdom to take the decision.” 

In 2015, the Centre had called a resolution with the NSCN-IM, as a “historic peace accord”, saying then that the “agreement will end the oldest insurgency in the country. It will restore peace and pave the way for prosperity in the North East.

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It will advance a life of dignity, opportunity and equity for the Naga people, based on their genius and consistent with the uniqueness of the Naga people and their culture and traditions.” 

But seven years on, talks are still ongoing. In May this year, the NSCN-IM had stalled talks, because they were upset with the Centre’s interlocutor AK Mishra for omitting “potentially important points” that his predecessor R N Ravi had included in his formulation papers before. The talks resumed this September. 

The NSCN(IM) after the killings in December had said the “notorious AFSPA has given the Indian security forces the license to shoot and kill anyone on mere suspicion.” 

“We Nagas have endured the insults heaped on our human dignity for too long. The Nagas have had the bitter taste of this Act on numerous occasions and it has spilled enough blood. Blood and political talks cannot go together”. 

While the Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio had said with the Assembly resolution that “AFSPA had its origin in the Naga political issue and the armed insurrection that followed”, and said there had been “many instances of misuse or abuse of the provisions of the AFSPA”. 

President of the Naga Hoho, the apex tribal body in Nagaland, HK Zhimomi, while still backing the peace talks told India Ahead that it was the central governments “double standard” to continue peace talks while at the same tie extend AFSPA. 

In July of 2022, the Supreme Court had stayed criminal proceedings against Indian Army officers accused of killing civilians in Nagaland. It had taken note of the fact that mandatory previous sanction as required under section 6 of the AFPSA had not been obtained. Thirty Indian Army personnel including a major, were named in a chargesheet filed by the Nagaland Police.  

The court order reads “the proceedings in this case emanate out of an incident dated 4th December 2021 which led to a firing in which 6 persons were killed. The incident flared up leading to more killings and also killing of one of the Army personnel”