Wake up call, afspa must go

Nagaland Tragedy

By Insaf

The tragedy in Nagaland couldn’t have been summed up better. Rajya Sabha member KG Kenye of Naga People’s Front said on Thursday last: “All efforts, which have been put in by wise men, by leaders, by right-thinking citizens from all walks of life, have been destroyed in a matter of a few hours,” referring to the recent killing of civilians in security forces a botched up operation, the aftermath mayhem and the enactment of AFSPA, “which when brought on the floor of this August House, was followed by a marathon debate… which stretched for days together”. MPs from different parts of the country, he said, had vehemently opposed it expressing grave fears about its “misuse and abuse,… they were prophetic and have been proven correct…” Indeed, the killing of 14 civilians and a soldier in three incidents since Saturday last has shattered the relative calm and the Centre’s claim of better times. Worse, it has put uncertainty over so-called peace talks with New Delhi, with the key Naga group NSCN(I-M) declaring it a “black day” for all Nagas; the Naga National Political Group blaming AFSPA’s continuation for such incidents and even Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio stating the incident was ‘misuse and abuse of the Act and a ‘human rights violation’. Precisely. It is not enough to have a high-level SIT investigation and assurance that justice will be delivered, the larger issue of AFSPA, which hasbrought ‘animosity on all the people’ of the northeast region, must be addressed. It’s better to be late than sorry!

Farmers’ Victory
It’s finally over!Farmers will be celebratingSunday as ‘Vijay Divas’ (Victory Day), after their 15-long months of peaceful and sustained protest at Delhi’s doorsteps. The decision to end the agitation was taken on Thursday last by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM),the umbrella organisation of 32 unions,following the Modi government sending a formal letter from the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfareagreeing to their demands— to unconditionally withdraw all cases against protestors, including SKM representatives in the committee for MSP and giving compensation to families of 700-odd farmers who died during the stir. This after repealing of the three contentious farm laws was not good enough to call off their agitation. In fact, the SKM is being cautious and says it will hold a meeting on 15 January to review whether the government keeps its word. It must for it wouldn’t want to revisit the time since November 25 last year, when farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, marched their way to Delhi border and protests were held in other States. The morchas are being lifted and protest sites getting vacated amidst jubilation. The big question is whether the farmers’ gharwapsi (return home) will give the majoritarian governmenta good yield for its climb down, in the three States going to polls, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab.
Murder Resonates In Assembly
The murder of young school teacher MamitaMeher in October in Kalahandi is haunting the Odisha Assembly and the ruling BJD. For the 7th consecutive day, it could not transact any business and was adjourned as the Opposition, BJP and Congress MLAs demand removal of Minister of Home for State D S Mishra for his alleged links to the prime accused, G Sahu, President, Sunshine English Medium School’s managing committee, in the murder case. The protests range from slogan shouting, blocking of Assembly gate, beating gongs and bells and even sprinkling gangajal and cow dung for purification and absence of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who via video conferencing assured a fair probe but also asserted there was no question of Mishra’s ouster for lack of proof. An exasperated government Chief Whip Pramila Mallik wants the Opposition to stop ‘its theatrics’ and get down to business, including introduction of bills and said “How can we proceed with the sessions just by ourselves.” The Speaker Patro too wondered “What actions can I take?…” Hey, take a cue from Parliament, MPs could say. Bills are not just being introduced but passed within minutes without discussion, sans the Opposition!

Lax Maharashtra
A hard rap from the Supreme Court has got the Maharashtra government to get its act together. On Thursday last, the State, which has had the highest number of fatalities due to Covid-19, finally started the relief portal and disbursement of Rs 50,000 ex-gratia relief to the relatives of victims. The court saw red with the administration not complying with its October order, wherein compensation was to be provided within 30 days of applications being received. The explanation offered for the delay i.e. ‘to link the website directly with ICMR data, which would help get all the details of the deceased through their Aadhar card number’, didn’t go down well as Gujarat created a similar website ‘within two days.’ Of the 1,41,204 deaths due to Covid-19 till December 9, the Thackeray government has received 66,000 applications and only 1,600 families so far have got compensated. The court asked the State to ‘publicise the scheme more, especially in rural areas.’ And while the government will need to cough up Rs 700-odd crore as relief, families may want it to consider raising the ex-gratia as other States are offering a better compensation— such as Bihar Rs 4 lakh and Karnataka Rs 1.5 lakh. The Maratha pride should would want to do one better?

WB ‘National Security’
West Bengal’s Raj Bhavan is alarmed over ‘national security’ this time. In a letter to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday last, Governor Jagdeep Dhankharfired yet another salvo by expressing grave concern at her directives concerning BSF, at the administrative meeting at Ganga Rampur on Tuesday last. The police is said to have been told to ensure that the BSF doesn’t cross its jurisdiction of 15 km from the international border and that”You also have to see that the BSF does not get into villages without your permission and get involved with anything. The BSF will do their work and you will do yours. Always remember that law and order is your subject.” This, said Dhankar, is ‘not in sync with law or the recent Home Ministry notification increasing BSF jurisdiction in the state from 15 km to 50 km…Your stance has sent disturbing signals and is potentially alarming for federal polity and national security.”The letter shared on Twitter asked her to “take appropriate steps urgently and address the issue in public and national interest…to ensure an environ of harmony and cooperation.” Better the Governor should have asked for the moon, as he should know well by now Didiis far from obliging, rather the latest salvo gives her another handle to hit back!

‘What I Eat Outside’?
Three cheers to the Gujarat High Court. It literally cooked the goose of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation while dealing with its controversial order of removing handcarts selling non-vegetarian food. “What is your problem? You don’t like non-veg food, that is your lookout. How can you decide what I eat outside? Tomorrow you will decide what I should eat outside the house?,”is what Justice Biren Vaishnav had to say while disposing a petition on Thursday last filed by 25 street vendors opposing the corporation’s drive. The petition claimed that the drive began after a councillor from Rajkot “got offended that non-vegetarian food was being sold on the streets” and their carts were seized ‘despite there being no order to seize.’ The Corporation counsel pleaded it was a‘misconception,’ as, there’s no such drive,rather its “against encroachment on the road, which is a hindrance to public traffic or absolute blockage of pedestrian.”Not convincing. The judge wondered whether the encroachment removal was being undertaken under guise of targeting non-veg sellers, but did give benefit of doubt. Disposing the petition, he ordered the carts be returned as per law. A lesson not just for Ahmedabad corporation, is it? — INFA