KOHIMA, 12 Dec: Nagaland minister V Kashiho Sangtam on Sunday alleged that the Army has taken “undue advantage” of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act to “kill and terrorise” people since 1958.
Speaking on behalf of the Eastern Nagaland Legislators’ Union (ENLU), which represents 20 of the 60 MLAs in the state, during a candlelight vigil organised by Konyak Union here, he said that repeal of the Act has been a long-standing demand of the people of the Northeast.
“Due to the imposition of AFSPA, our people have for so long suffered untold miseries and discrimination at the hands of security forces,” Sangtam, the geology and mining, and soil and water conservation minister said.
“Thousands of lives have been lost and homes left shattered and broken due to AFSPA, but the protests against this Act seems to have fallen on deaf ears,” he said.
AFSPA gives sweeping powers to paramilitary forces in “disturbed areas” to search any premises, arrest anyone without warrant, and shoot or kill anyone on mere suspicion, the minister said.
“After the unprecedented carnage in Oting, words aren’t necessary anymore to express what the Act is about. It is nothing but oppressive and discriminatory, and must go,” he said.
The minister said that the Nagaland government has passed a cabinet memo to repeal AFSPA. It has also set up an SIT headed by an IGP to complete the investigation into the firing incident within one month.
Sangtam said that ENLU assures the people of Oting and the Konyaks that initiatives will be taken to ensure that an impartial judgment is delivered and the culprits are punished as per the law.
Eastern Nagaland Women’s Union Kohima unit president Lemei B Phom called on all Nagas to stand unitedly so that “future generations are spared from such brutality”.
Eastern Nagaland Peoples’ Union Kohima unit president N Toshi Chang said that the incident has shaken the entire Naga community, whose “tears won’t dry up so easily”.
Konyak Union Kohima unit chief H Angnyei Konyak said that Nagas will never forgive the army personnel for killing the civilians. (PTI)