Editorial

Bonded by AFSPA

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 1/7/2021 1:23:06 PM IST

 In a surprise move set against the backdrop of expectations of a peaceful solution, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has declared the entire State of Nagaland as a “disturbed area” for six more months under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) on December 30,2020. AFSPA is currently effective in entire Assam, Nagaland, Manipur (excluding Imphal Municipal Council Area), Changlang, Longding and Tirap districts of Arunachal Pradesh. The government on April 24,2018 withdrew the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from all of Meghalaya and parts of Arunachal Pradesh. Meghalaya, Tripura and parts of Arunachal Pradesh have been declared free of insurgency. It may be noted that the AFSPA had its roots in the Armed Forces Special Powers Ordinance of 1942 promulgated by the British on August 15, 1942 to suppress the Quit India Movement. The same colonial mindset went into invoking the Act in Nagaland in the 50s. The Act provides unbridled powers to security forces which cannot be contested in civil courts. In 1972, amendments to the AFSPA took away the power from the State government and its legislative Assembly and handed it over to an appointee of the Central Government. While the situation in Nagaland is by and large, peaceful it does not appear so for the Central government. On the other hand, though many parts of India, especially Naxal-infested states have witnessed terrible violence, the government of India did not invoke AFSPA in those areas. This inherent contradiction in dealing with similar situations in the mainland states vis-à-vis the north east and Jammu and Kashmir also reveals how Delhi looks at the issue of maintenance of public order. The State government always objects to the extension of AFSPA in Nagaland as and when the Union government seeks the State’s opinion before declaring Nagaland a ‘disturbed area’, but the law is extended every year and now it has become a routine exercise. The Act effectively places the entire zone or area under the jurisdiction of the armed forces through which, the latter can over ride the fundamental rights of citizens in pursuance of the enforcement of law and order. In addition, there is no mechanism for the people to challenge this opinion. The Disturbed Areas(Special Courts)Act 1976 grants powers to the central or state governor to make the declaration but does not describe the circumstances under which the authority would justified in making the declaration. The Act is also violative of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The main complaint against the Act is that it empowers even a non commissioned officer to undertake any action against anyone at any time, any place and even to the point of resulting in death-with no questions asked, not even in any court of law. Terrorism and violence that have been spawned by decades of neglect and wrong policies cannot be tackled by carpet bombing with such draconian Act and methods. The Jeeven Reddy Commission headed by retired judge Jeeven Reddy, set up by the UPA government on AFSPA, had recommended several amendments but which was resisted by the army .Both the centre and State governments must device other methods to tackle the problem and some Act could replace the current draconian Act as a beginning.

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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