Walking to demand repeal of AFSPA

Nagas are on a two-day walkathon, starting Monday, from Dimapur to Kohima, covering a distance of more than 70 kms, demanding repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers Act) or AFSPA and justice for the 14 people who were killed by Indian security forces in early December.

The AFSPA was re-imposed in Nagaland for another six months on 30 December while the Nagas and others from the region were demanding repeal of the Act.

The notification read that the “Centre is of the opinion that the area comprising the whole of the state of Nagaland is in such a disturbed and dangerous condition that the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary. Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (No 28 of 1958) the central government hereby declares that whole of the state of Nagaland to be ‘disturbed area’ for a period of six months with effect from 30 December, 2021, for the purpose of the said Act.”

The imposition of the Act was not unexpected, even though the Nagaland government called a special session on 20 December, where it was unanimously resolved to demand repeal of the AFSPA as protests peaked in the state against the Act and the killings.

Also, on 26 December last year, the union government constituted a high-level central committee to look into the withdrawal of the Act. The committee will submit its report within 45 days. There have been numerous committees before, so there is very less expectation from the current one.

With the renewed call for repeal of the Act, the Centre must listen to the people.

For decades Nagaland has been under the draconian law, even when the Indo-Naga peace talk is ongoing. The Act must be repealed if the Centre is serious about lasting peace in Nagaland.