AFSPA will be re-imposed if law and order not under control: Nagaland CM Neiphiu Rio

KOHIMA: Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio on Monday said that if law and order situation in the state cannot be controlled, the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) might be re-imposed in the state. In his address at a crucial consultative meeting with tribal Hohos and organizations on AFSPA, he said that all stakeholders had appealed for abolition of the draconian law and the Central government has finally heard the appeals of the people. He appealed for co-operation with the government to ensure that no untoward incidents occur and urged all the stakeholders to seriously ponder how to properly maintain law and order in the state.

As the Naga solution is for all the Nagas, he stressed that the Nagas should harbour a sense of unity and oneness and not be selfish in their demands. Rio thanked the civil society organizations, tribal leaders, and student bodies for cooperating and supporting the government. He said that the state government had formed a 22-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the Oting incident in Mon district where 14 people were killed and 30 others were injured by the security forces in December last year.

Congratulating the SIT members for their prompt investigation and submission of their preliminary reports, he said that once the final report is submitted and a case is filed, it would be made known to the public. The Centre had also formed a SIT and they have also submitted their report, he added. United Democratic Alliance Chairman T.R. Zeliang also appealed for co-operation as the police would be handicapped without the peoples’ support. State Chief Secretary J. Alam said that after almost three decades, AFSPA was removed completely in three districts and partially lifted in four other districts and hoped that further progress will be seen in the days to come. Home Commissioner, Abhijit Sinha said that out of 72 police stations, AFSPA has been withdrawn in 15 police stations.

Tribal leaders, leaders of apex bodies, Hohos, civil society groups and student bodies would have to play an important role and would have to take responsibility for keeping the peace, he said. Director General of Police, John Longklumer, maintained that once AFSPA is removed, the responsibility of law and order and maintaining peace will fall on the Nagaland Police. He informed that India Reserve Battalions of the state forces personnel have been deployed at strategic locations to ensure the maintenance of law and order.

While the Eastern Naga Students’ Federation sought total justice for all victims of the Oting incident, the influential Konyak Union boycotted Monday’s meeting to protest “delay” in providing justice to the families and punishment to the armed forces personnel concerned. Union Home Minister Amit Shah had announced reducing operation of AFSPA, which allows army and central paramilitary forces to conduct raids, and arrest anyone anywhere without prior notice or arrest warrant, in Nagaland, Assam, and Manipur, following vociferous demand by many political parties and NGOs. IANS

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