Post Mortem

Human Rights violation by the police and security forces in NE: brutality repeating itself in spells in Nagaland

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 12/7/2021 2:39:17 PM IST

 From Previous issue

AFSPA and Nagaland: The Short History

The first killing was a pastor who was burnt alive in a Mission compound in Kohima district the capital of Nagaland. AFSPA was a replica of the Rowlatt Act 1919, the infamous Act, because the whole of India was against it. The day AFSPA was imposed, many people irrespective of age, gender were tortured to severe degrees. Many women were molested and raped. Many villages were razed to ashes. Not one single Naga village could escape. Many children were born in the jungle because pregnant mothers had to run to jungle for their safety from the armies. A rape victim’s voice February 24, 1957, “Tell it my son, tell it to the world, so that our pain and our humiliation would not have been in vain.” Mayangkokla of Ungma village, Mokokchung.

There are hundreds and thousands of Naga women who had all experienced similar stories. But they had to shoulder their burden all alone, all their lives. For instance the victims of Yankeli Baptist church mass rape both young and old, twenty four victims of Cheswezouma village and the Changtonyia or Oinan. The list is endless. Some of the victims were minor below the age of ten years and some were above sixties. Some committed suicide like Rose Tangkhul because they could not live with humiliation. In Wokha district a village by the name Yenli, four women were raped inside the church. The army regard themselves as the champion of the human rights but they allow their men to commit such horrendous crimes. Therefore, the United Nations and all of India especially the people who fight for the democratic rights need to open their eyes. 

As you stepped in to Nagaland, one will notice, “Friends of the Hill People” written at the air force gate and near the army cantonment area in the heart of Kohima town or anywhere else in Nagaland. But had they really been the friends of the hill people will they stoop so low to kill and torture people just on mere ground of suspicion. Hundreds of Naga people have been killed and brutalised by the armed personnel’s just on mere grounds of suspicion. The current heart wrenching incident of Oting village at Mon is not different from any of the sordid incident which we don’t want to penned down. But the story has to be retold again and again!

AFSPA, is considered as a colonial replica that has no place in any civilised nation even at the worst of times. It is regarded as an alien government steadfast to quell the rebellion by any means. G.B. Pant the then Home Minister introduced the Bill in the Lok Sabah on August 11, 1958, stating that the Army had to be recalled in the Naga Hills. But in reality, “it only provides for the protection of the Army when it has to deal with hostile Nagas.” 

Military excesses have been committed since India got Independence and its tentacles are still there and encroaching the rights of the North East people. It has not stopped. Take the case of Auranachal in 2021, AFSPA has been imposed in 3 districts, i.e, Changlang, Longdind and Tirap districts declaring it as ‘Disturbed Areas’. Also the same with Assam and Manipur, except Imphal Municipal Council Area, is not without AFSPA. This Act it is nothing but attack on the federal structure of the country.” 

Impunity and militarism has been institutionalised in the North East. For the indigenous people of the North East militarisation has been internalised part and system of the daily lives. Asian indigenous Peoples Act (AIPP) in its foundations in their report titled, “Indigenous Peoples Human Rights Challenges North East India 2015,” has observed this. The AIPP report stated that seventy years of military and paramilitary presence in the North East has “escalated discontentment and institutionalised impunity and militarism”. AIPP in its report also raised about “questionable power” enabled to security forces by the AFSPA. And sadly it is still continuing

It goes far against Article 21 of the constitution which says that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law. But AFSPA ‘license to kill’, depicts another picture where any person can be deprived of his life by any commissioned officer, he can shoot!! It’s ridiculous. Naushir Bharucha, a brilliant Mumbai lawyer in his speech (Lok Sabha August 11, 1958) remarked, “I also want to know whether the policy of shoot to kill underlying this Bill will not a have a psychological effect, first on the Nagas and secondly on the Army personnel shoot to kill instills in the people in whose hands power is placed a sense of carelessness and callousness. There is a feeling: We are protected, we can shoot to kill. I am not for a moment alleging that our defense forces are so callous as that. But human nature being what it is, having regard to the fact that our Army may have to work in very difficult and trying circumstances wherever they are, troops may be overworked and they may resort to these because a psychological impression is created in the minds of the troops: we can shoot to kill; nobody can question us. I ask: what type of policy is this to win the hearts of the people whom you are trying to incorporate and integrate as part of India. Shoot to kill.” 

On the same line L. Achaw Singh of Manipur said: “I fail to understand why the military authorities are to be invested with special powers. I have found that these military have always committed excesses in many cases especially in the sub-division of Kohima and Mokokchung. In such a situation I do not like that the officers should be invested with special powers. Recently, such an incident took place in the headquarters of the North Cachar and Mikir Hills districts. Instead of rounding the hostile Nagas, some military personnel trespassed into the house of some retired tribal official and committed rape on the widow. So, such things have deteriorated the situation. The tribal people have risen against the military people there. It is therefore, dangerous to invest the military powers of killing and of arrest without warrant and of house breaking. ” 

I have got reports of the operations of the armed forces in these tribal subdivisions of Manipur, especially in the subdivision of Tamenglong where these armed forces have by force occupied the religious institutions in spite of the protests of the local people. Most of them are Christians there and they hold their churches sacred. But these armed forces would occupy these institutions. There are schools, and the armed forces could easily occupy them, but then, in spite of the protests of the people, they encroached upon, and trespassed into the house.” 

Rungoung Suisa from Outer Manipur (Reserved Scheduled Tribes) said much of the same thing. “A soldier is trained in the art of killing and destruction. He cannot appreciate the yearning of the human soul. As soon as he finds a colleague of his killed, his anxiety is to kill other people, whether they belong to the rebel party or not. So, we have to learn one lesson from the past actions. I wonder whether any people in the world, have suffered more than the Nagas. But are they kneeling down. They are suppressed. Physically you may suppress them and eliminate them. But the problem will remain there. It will be in their hearts.” 

Atrocities still continuing

December 4, 2021 Oting village, Mon district of Nagaland, death toll has reached 14 and many more seriously injured, the excess committed by the Security Forces laid as ambush on the ground of mere suspicion, taking the local people as militants who were coming back home for weekend on pickup trucks from the coal mining place, Tiru.

On April 6th April, 2015 a thirteen year girl old girl was raped. Her mother (35) and grandmother (55) was molested by the jawans as they tried to rescue the teenager in the village Sarthe Tokbi, a village under the Dokmoka police station, 80 km South-West of Diphu, the Karbi Anglong district headquarters. The Karbis are the main tribal group of the West district of Assam, Karbi Anglong, administered under the provisions of the Constitution’s Sixth Schedule. The village level worker was also roughed up by the soldiers. To add fuel to the fire, the police opened fire to the demonstrators when the citizens and school children were staging protest against the rape of the minor and molestation of women. Here, again eight persons were injured, according to the report of Pankay Teron, an official of the Karbi, Human Rights Watch. 

Though protest have been going on so far none of the jawans have been arrested. The reason the police gave was because of AFSPA protection. The victims have been threatened and pressurised to withdraw their complaints. Is this not an absurd claim? The AFSPA giving the army the authority to rape and torture women. AFSPA is serving as a virtual ‘license to rape’ too. Twisting the story, the Army and the Ministry of Defence is seeking to distract the anti rape agitation, stating that prosecution of the guilty armies will be taken care of by them. 

To make the claim more suspicious again, the army’s latest claim is that “rapist jawan” had committed suicide. Here the suicide inside the army camp should be treated as a suspicious death, because the victims have not been given the chance to identify the perpetrators. All these twist and turns shows the local public are at the mercy of the armed forces and the insensitive attitude of the army.

The Justice Verma Committee had observed that, “Systematic or isolated sexual violence, in the process of Internal Security duties, is being legitimised by the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which is in force in large parts of our country.” 

Things to take into Account

• Treat people with dignity. Treat others as you would like to be treated.

• Respect the human rights of every individual. Any other attitude or behavior will diminish one’s personality and stature.

• The armed personnel at all levels should be sensitized to human rights through basic as well as in service trainings.

• The armed personnel wherever they are posted should have sympathy and compassion of the local areas.

• Repeal AFSPA! Ensure justice! Imposition of the Disturbed Areas Act be withdrawn. So as to end militirisation of the region and justice be provided to victims of sexual violence by military and paramilitary forces as pet the guidelines of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325.

• More importantly, it is to be ensured that human rights are protected at the level of enforcement and any violation should be viewed seriously.

Conclusion

It is only by the police forces and the armed forces respecting the human rights of every individual, in all circumstances, that they will be able to regain the credibility and trust of the common people.

No armed forces can triumph and succeed in its assigned task, without total cooperation and trust of the common people living in the area in which they are deployed. 

Kuknalim!

(Concluded...)

Dr. Toli Achumi, Assistant Professor, Yingli College, Longleng, Nagaland

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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