Following the horrific killing of 14 civilians by security forces in Mon district of Nagaland earlier this month, there has been a growing demand for lifting the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, or the AFSPA from the northeastern state. The security forces have attributed wrong intelligence for the killing of innocent civilians. Since the killing, there is growing anger against the security forces and demand for withdrawal of the AFSPA is growing in the whole NE region. This law gives legal immunity to the army. There is fear that security forces responsible for the Mon killings may escape using the AFSPA.
The anger against the killings seems to have woken up the union government. On Sunday, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said that the Centre has decided to constitute a five-member committee to look into the demand for withdrawal of the AFSPA. The panel will submit its recommendations within 45 days, based on which the decision on whether to continue designating Nagaland as a ‘disturbed area’ or withdrawing the AFSPA from the state will be taken. This is a positive move, but it should not be just eyewash. Not only from Nagaland, this draconian law should be withdrawn from the whole NE region. In a modern democracy like India, this law should not exist at all. The government of India should immediately withdraw the AFSPA from wherever it has been implemented.