Editorial

Act of impunity

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 1/5/2020 11:43:53 AM IST

 Nearly 77 years after the draconian law known as Armed Forces Special Powers Act was enacted by the British colonial rulers to confront the widespread civil disobedience movement known as ‘Quit India Movement’; the Act was amended in 1958 specially for the then Naga Hills and parts of Manipur. The AFSPA has been further extended by six months w.e.f December 30,2019 and will be effective all over Nagaland. This leads to the question as to why Nagaland, since 1958 continues to be designated as “disturbed” when political negotiations indicate normalcy? The Act came into operation in 1958 ostensibly for a period of six months, but till date it has not been removed, even after multiple protests by civil liberties organisations all over India. Presently, AFSPA extends throughout Assam, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland including districts of Changlang, Longding and Tirap in Arunachal Pradesh while it has been withdrawn from Meghalaya, Imphal Municipal Council area and Tripura. The purpose of the AFSPA is to give armed forces the power to maintain public order in “disturbed areas”. As per AFSPA 1958 a Non-Commissioned Officer(NCO) can use force or even open fire to the point of causing death, after giving due warning if they feel a person is in contravention of the law. As per the Act no uniformed personnel can be tried in civil courts for offences under CrPC, unless permitted by the centre. The AFSPA is a classic example of how some of the colonial laws, may prima facie, seem to be repressive and not inspire confidence in present day India, but state governments seem satisfied in relying on statutes of such colonial laws to justify their actions. If the AFSPA could be lifted from Meghalaya, Tripura, parts of Arunachal except three of its districts and Manipur, the question is, why is it that the same has not been done for Mizoram, where insurgency ended more than two decades ago? Also why are Assam and Nagaland still placed under the Act? Perhaps the government has a very good reason to extend AFSPA all over Nagaland even as political groups have concluded the peace deal and solution now awaited. If AFSPA is so necessary to tackle armed rebels/ insurgents/ secessionists etc, then why the government of India has not found fit to impose this Act in Naxal/Maoist-infested states where hundreds of armed personnel were killed during the recent decades? If the government of India does not need AFSPA to tackle the brutal and hardened Maoists/ Naxals, then why should it persist with the Act in the north east, which by the Army’s own admission, the situation is largely peaceful?. The north east and J&K are made to bear the brunt of the repressive law which people in other states of the country have relatively no experience or interest. People in non-AFSPA states appear to acquiesce to the government’s claim that these are circumstances where security must trump over liberty. With a view to address AFSPA, in 2004 the UPA constituted the Jeevan Reddy committee on. The report was submitted on June 6,2005 but as usual nothing was done. Then in 2015 the BJP rejected the recommendations for dilution of the Act. The AFSPA is a prime example of how democracy legitimises violence on the people that it considers errant/deviant.

 

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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