NPF, Congress demand complete roll-back of AFSPA in Manipur

Imphal, April 01 2022: Striking a discordant note, Naga People’s Front (NPF), BJP’s ally in the Manipur government has come out against the partial roll back of the controversial AFSPA act and demanded that it be withdrawn altogether.

The principal opposition in the state, Congress has also sought removal of the law, describing the announcement by Union Home Minister Amit Shah that it would be withdrawn from areas covered by 15 police stations on Thursday, as a “beginning” .

Naga People’s Front State General Secretary Honreikhui Kashung, told PTI ‘We are not happy with it.

Our movement is for withdrawal of AFSPA from the entire North East region and not just from specific areas” .

Ukhrul MLA Ram Muivah opined that the government should also consider repeal of AFSPA from hill districts as most of the insurgent groups are in ceasefire and SoO agreement with the government.

Addressing a press meet held at Classic Grande here on Friday, MLA Ram Muivah asserted that AFSPA is a law that degrades the image of world’s largest democracy.

It is a racist and draconian Act, he added.

Though states like Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand have Maoist insurgency there has been no enforcement of the Act in these states.

Implementation of AFSPA in North Eastern states is a step brotherly treatment towards the people of the region, he asserted.

Ram Muivah continued that under the shadow of AFSPA, there have been various incidents where Army personnel raped tribal women.

Chief minister N Biren has a huge credit in removing AFSPA from areas under 15 police stations in the valley districts, he said and expressed confidence that the CM will continue to work for revoking AFSPA from other districts of the state in future also.

Praising the CM N Biren for his 100 Days Action Plan’, the Ukhrul MLA called it very innovative and exceptional approach to governance.

He has asked the CM to include repairing of 14 roads in Ukhrul assembly constituency in the Action Plan and he is sure that at its end a big change will come, Ram Muivah said.

The NPF is also present in strength in Nagaland where it is the largest party with 25 MLAs and is part of the ruling coalition.

It is also present in Arunachal Pradesh.

Movements demanding scrapping of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958, which empowers security forces with powers to arrest without warrants, search premises and to fire after warning, have rocked the north east and especially Manipur for long.

The killing of fourteen civilians by security forces in a series of firings in Mon district of Nagaland over December 4-5 in a botched anti-militancy operation, reignited decades old demands for removal of the AFSPA.

Manipur too has a long history of anti-AFSPA protests with the longest known hunger strike against the act being undertaken by Irom Sharmila for a period of 16 years till 2016, during which she was force-fed in a hospital after being detained.

Congress spokesperson Devbrata Khumanthem told PTI that the partial roll back of the act is a welcome “beginning”, but said the demand is for removal of the Act was from the whole state and not specified areas.

He questioned why the “withdrawal was limited to specific areas when the BJP government has been making claims that law and order has improved in the whole state in last five years”.

Devbrata pointed out the withdrawal has-“divided the people into two grades”, one section being those who live in areas under these few police stations where AFSPA has been withdrawn and others (the majority) who live outside the jurisdiction of these police stations.

AFSPA has been withdrawn from selected, mostly urban police stations, in Imphal East and West, Bishnupur, Thoubal, Jiribam and Kakching.

These areas are in Manipur plains which ate dominated by Meiteis.

No relaxation has been given to Naga or Kuki dominated districts.

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