Will Remove AFSPA From N-East After Ensuring Peace: Amit Shah

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday said that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government would remove Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) only after installing peace in northeast India.

“Rahul Gandhi gave Congress an agenda to remove AFSPA from the northeast if they came to power (in 2019), for the sake of appeasement. When it was asked of me, I said we will first bring peace in the northeast and then only will remove AFSPA, which would not happen just for appeasement,” Amit Shah said addressing a public gathering at the inauguration of the newly built BJP office– Atal Bihari Vajpayee Bhawan in Guwahati, which is spread over 95,000 square feet and is the party’s biggest office in the northeastern region, expected to be full of all modern amenities.

The Ministry of Home Affairs recently extended the AFSPA, an act that empowers the armed forces to maintain public order in “disturbed areas,” in some parts of the northeast for another six months.

In an order on October 1, the AFSPA was extended in certain regions of Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh. However, the act was extended in Assam for six months on February 28, 2022, and on December 1, 2021, in Manipur.

This is the home minister’s first visit to the region after the extension of the act.

Addressing the public, Shah asserted that the party office for the BJP is a temple and not just a house of bricks and stone.

“For a BJP worker, the office is not a building, the office is a bundle of emotions. Here the work is outlined, this is where the plans for the development of the entire northeast India and Assam of the BJP are made,” Shah said while highlighting the all-around development in the region.

Expressing his contentment over the development of Assam and the northeast, Amit Shah asserted that the party’s consecutive rule in the region has ensured an “all-round development”.

“During my Vidyarthi Parishad days, we had never imagined if we would make a government on our own in Assam, but today, the consecutive rule of BJP in the state has been ensuring all-round development,” he said underscoring that instead of arriving in Assam as Home Minister this time, Shah said he has come as a BJP worker.

“I am very happy today that in the short span of 2014 to 2022, the entire North East and our Assam has started on the path of development today. It is a matter of good fortune for a worker like me that the development of both North East and BJP (here in North East) are going hand-in-hand,” he added.

He further attacked Congress for making the peaceful land of Assam turn divisive.

“People were always worried that if Assam doesn’t get inclusive growth, it would be a big problem for North East. The underlying reason was Congress, which always was keen to make the pious and peaceful land of Assam, a divisive one,” Shah added while alleging that the Congress-led UPA government had made the “great land of Assam a land of disintegration, of terrorism, of strikes, of agitations”.

He said that it is the resolution of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government to bring Northeast to the mainstream for its development as is evident that the BJP leader (Shah and national president JP Nadda) visit each state of the seven sisters every fortnight, even if they come for one night. (ANI)

Read More:https://lokmarg.com/

AFSPA In 9 Districts Of Nagaland

Centre Extends AFSPA In 9 Districts Of Nagaland For 6 Months

The Central government has extended the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in nine districts of Nagaland, including Dimapur, Niuland, Chumoukedima, Mon, Kiphire, Noklak, Phek, Peren, and Zunheboto, from Saturday (October 1) to March 30 next year, according to a notification issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

In addition, the Government of India has also extended AFSPA in the areas falling within the jurisdiction of 16 police stations in four districts of Nagaland including five police stations in Kohima district; six police stations in Mokokchung district; Yanglok police station in Longleng district; and four police stations in Wokha district.
These 16 police stations comprise Khuzama, Kohima North, Kohima South, Zubza, and Kezocha police stations in the Kohima district; Mangkolemba, Mokokchung-l, Longtho, Tuli, Longchem, and Anaki ‘C’ police stations in Mokokchung district; Yanglok police station in Longleng district; and Bhandari, Champang, Ralan and Sungro police stations in Wokha district.

“Dimapur, Niuland, Chumoukedima, Mon, Kiphire, Noklak. Phek, Peren, and Zunheboto districts in Nagaland and the areas in Nagaland falling within the jurisdiction of i) Khuzama, Kohima North, Kohima South, Zubza, and Kezocha police stations in Kohima District; ii) Mangkolemba, Mokokchung-l, Longtho, Tuli, Longchem, and Anaki °C’ police stations in Mokokchung District; iii) Yanglok police station in Longleng District, and iv) Bhandari, Champang. “Ralan and Sungro police stations in Wokha District are declared as’ disturbed areas’ under Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 for a period of six months with effect from October 1, 2022, unless withdrawn earlier,” reads a notification issued by the MHA on Friday.

The Centre took the step following a further review of the law and order situation in Nagaland.

Earlier, the Central Government in the exercise of the powers conferred by Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (28 of 1958) had declared nine districts and 16 Police Stations in four other districts of Nagaland as ‘disturbed area’ for a period of six months with effect from April 1 to September 30, 2022.

The AFSPA empowers security forces to arrest a person without a warrant, enter or search premises without a warrant, and perform other actions. (ANI)

Read More:https://lokmarg.com/

Centre Extends AFSPA In Nagaland For Six Months

The Centre on Thursday extended the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 or AFSPA in Nagaland for another six months, mentioning that the state is in such a “disturbed and dangerous condition” that the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary.

The announcement was made through a gazette notification issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs amid calls from the Northeastern state to withdraw it after the alleged botched security operation near Oting Village in Nagaland’s Mon district that left 14 civilians and one jawan dead on December 4.

“Whereas the Central Government 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,” the notification said.

“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 December 30, 2021 for the purpose of the said Act,” it mentioned.

The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958 provides certain special powers to a member of the Armed Forces in areas in the Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. The powers were also extended to forces deployed in Jammu and Kashmir as well.

Interestingly, the law was first introduced by the British to suppress the Quit India movement in 1942.

AFSPA confers special powers on the armed forces in areas deemed “disturbed”. In a ‘disturbed area,’ a military officer can fire upon an unlawful assembly of five or more people if the need arises or even for illegal possession of firearms.

Moreover, according to the law, no arrest and search warrants are required for any operation.

It also provides protection to persons acting under Act, which means ‘No prosecution, suit or other legal proceedings shall be instituted, except with the previous sanction of the Central Government, against any person in respect of anything done or purported to be done in exercise of the powers conferred by this Act’. (ANI)

Does AFSPA Know A Mother’s Heart?

Deep sadness stalks the pristine landscape. The simmering shadow of angst and anger lingers like a specter of death across the villages and towns of Nagaland with its simple, hardworking people in the distant North-east of India. The legendary Hornbill Festival, with its pulsating rhythms, collective joy and beautiful oral and folk traditions, will not happen this year. The people of Nagaland are in mourning.

As many as 13 innocent citizens were killed by the security forces in the Oting-Tiru area on December 4, and in Mon one day later, in indiscriminate firing by the Army. One jawan was also killed in the clash which followed with people protesting the Army ambush.

You should see the silent suffering of the parents, including the mother and father of the twin brothers, among the six coal miners, shot dead in cold blood, for no rhyme or reason. The mother and father sit hunched outside their homes, stupefied, their stoic faces telling yet another story of the predictable pattern repeated yet again in the Northeast, reminiscent of similar massacres and killings in the past.

The six coal miners were returning on a pick-up truck, on Saturday, perhaps singing, happy to go back home and be among their people on the weekend, looking forward to go to Sunday church next morning. Instead, their coffins were neatly lined up for burial, from earth to earth, life to death — and so meaningless, brutish, short and nasty.

Video images have reportedly emerged of the Army trying to allegedly shift the ‘hidden’ bodies in another truck covered with tarpaulin, after wrapping them up in plastic. If these reports are authentic, and which sources in the Nagaland Police are claiming so, then why should the Army be indulging in this terrible camouflage?

The Indian Express (December 6, 2021) has reported from Dibrugarh: “Direct marise… they shot right at us,” said Sheiwang, 23. He is among the only two survivors of the eight coal miners in Oting village. Six of his friends were killed. He has been shot on his elbow and chest and he is battling for life at the Assam Medical College and Hospital (AMCH) in Dibrugarh. Along with Yeihwang, 30, another survivor, now in a critical state, was shot near his ear. According to the report: “Union Home Minister Amit Shah in a statement in Rajya Sabha on Monday said the vehicle ‘was signaled to stop’ and was fired upon after it ‘tried to flee’. However, Sheiwang says: “We were not signaled to stop. They killed us directly. We were not trying to flee…we were just in the vehicle.”

The entire Naga society, civil society groups, the Naga Students’ Federation, political parties, the state government, have demanded that the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act-1958 (AFSPA), first enacted by the British, should go. This has been a universal demand across the country since long, but most regimes have refused to scrap AFSPA, except the Left-led government of Tripura, with Manik Sarkar at the helm. Under the Act, the Army can shoot and arrest, and they have total impunity.

ALSO READ: Exhuming Extra-Judicial Deaths In Punjab

Over the decades, cold-blooded massacres and killings have become a method in the madness in the Northeast, but justice has eluded the people, despite huge public protests. The blood of innocents has been relentlessly spilled — what happened in Nagaland is nothing but a chronicle of a tale foretold.

Manipur, in the neighbourhod, has had its own litany of tragedy and injustice. Indeed, the lines of control of the so-called ‘disturbed areas’ where AFSPA has been enacted, are etched as lines of infinite sorrow in the hearts and soul of the people.

Extra-judicial killings had become rampant in Manipur earlier. The Mint, (August 1, 2018), reported: “A two-judge bench of the apex court on 27 July pulled up CBI for delays in investigating extrajudicial killings in Manipur and in filing of charges. On 30 July, Justice MB Lokur and Justice UU Lalit hammered home the point when they summoned CBI director Alok Verma… There is reason for the court’s impatience. The hearings are on account of a PIL by the Extra Judicial Execution Victim Families Association, Manipur, and the Imphal-based Human Rights Alert (HRA), a watchdog. The PIL alleged 1,528 extrajudicial killings between 1980 and 2011. The allegations were against the Indian Army, its adjunct Assam Rifles, several central paramilitary forces, and the Manipur Police. While police are not protected by the immunity-and-impunity provisions of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, they piggy-backed on the practice of security forces to conduct their own campaigns of… intimidation…” In July 2017, a Supreme Court bench also brushed aside the adequacy of claims by the government that compensation had been paid to families of the victims. The court underscored its own observation from 2015: “Now it’s like you kill 10 people, pay compensation and the matter ends there…”

In the picturesque mountain village of Malom in Manipur, amidst undulating meadows of the magical Imphal valley, across the rice fields and pristine ponds, a silent memorial tells its own sad story, with the names of the dead, young and old, all innocent, etched forever as a testimony of Army atrocities. Infamously remembered as the ‘Malom Massacre’, 10 locals, including a national bravery award winner, were shot dead by the 17 Assam Rifles on November 2, 2000 here. This massacre triggered the 16-year long Gandhian fast and satyagraha of Irom Sharmila, with iron in her soul, a nasal pipe for forcible liquid transmission in her nose, condemned as a prisoner for years.

As her fast in custody, drawing global attention, entered its 15th year, this reporter met her on November 5, 2015 in Imphal. In her one-room ‘cell’, with solidarity messages and newspaper clippings on the wall, including a letter by Nelson Mandela, surrounded by books, including one by Gabriel Garcia Marquez,  she had said, “How can nations call themselves advanced or civilised if they practice, sanction and legitimise organized barbarism in the name of law and order? Why can’t they repeal AFSPA if they know so well that it is completely inhuman, anti-democratic, brutal, and irrational; that, it has led to mass insecurity, relentless tragedies, angst and injustice in Manipur and Kashmir; that it has led to the armed forces going berserk without accountability and with absolute impunity? I am fighting for reason and humanity. My struggle is peaceful. Why should the armed forces be allowed to kill and torture and get away? Why are we treated differently from the rest of India?”

Indeed, while her protest continued, so did the peaceful vigil with candles of the ‘Mothers of Manipur’, night and day, even as the entire civil society, sat on fasts in solidarity with Sharmila. The mothers have been a rock in the protracted struggle against AFSPA. And it is they who shook the national conscience yet again, and with such amazing power and raw force, on July 15, 2004, outside the Kangla Fort in Imphal, then the Assam Rifle headquarters.

On that historic day, 12 of the mothers stripped themselves totally naked outside the Fort with banners saying: ‘Indian Army Rape Us’ and ‘Indian Army Take Our Flesh’. They were protesting the murder of of Manorama Thangjam, 32, who was picked up by the men of Assam Rifles four days earlier, and then, assaulted and killed most brutally.

Manorama’s bullet-riddled body was later discovered near a paddy field. There were gun shots on her private parts and thighs — clearly, with an intent to camouflage the sexual assault. This was the height of injustice and impunity, and this was simply unacceptable anymore. That is why, the mothers stripped themselves naked outside the Assam Rifles headquarters.

This reporter visited the poor home of Manorama surrounded by dense foliage outside East Imphal in November, 2015. Her mother was still heart-broken, remembering how she was picked up by the soldiers with such brute force, and for no reason whatsoever. That nightmare, as a dark and cruel memory of a night of terror, continues to haunt the Manipuri mothers till this day.

And, yet, AFSPA remains. And so does the nightmare.

ARMY IN KASHMIR BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP SEA

Srinagar: Police conducts security checks after restrictions were imposed to prevent separatist-called protests against the death of two civilians in army firing; in Srinagar on Jan 28, 2018. Two youths were killed and eight other protestors injured in an army firing when a mob attacked an army convoy in Ganowpora village of Shopian district on Saturday. A magisterial probe has been ordered into the youths’ killings. Police have also registered an FIR into the incident. (Photo: IANS)[/caption]   The army has been deployed under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act J&K, 1990 (AFSPA) which is only applicable once the Disturbed Area Act has been invoked in the area of operations. The decision to declare an area disturbed is that of the state or central government once law and order situation deteriorates to a level where life and property is threatened. [caption id="attachment_24914" align="alignleft" width="298"] Jammu: National Conference working President Omar Abdullah addresses at the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly in Jammu on Jan 29, 2018. National Conference (NC) demanded the arrest of soldiers named in an FIR in the killing of two civilians in Jammu and Kashmir’s Shopian district, while the ruling BJP demanded withdrawal of the FIR. (Photo: IANS)[/caption] The incident was further complicated by an inefficient and ineffective Chief Minister who blamed the Army for the deaths of the civilians with no reference to the provocation by the crowd.  Omar Abdullah, the President of the National Conference also demanded arrest of soldiers. The civil police, the custodian of law and order in the state ; at the behest of the ruling party lodged an FIR against the Army accusing Major Aditya Kumar by name for killing the three civilians. This officer had had a very successful encounter a few weeks ago in which few ultras were neutralised. The locals at behest of separatist forces tried to create a situation to implicate the officer and defame him. It seems the Defence Minister was taken into confidence before filing of the FIR. Was the Defence Minister an accomplice to the FIR against the very soldiers functioning at her behest is better known to her. Did She take advice of the army chief or acted on her own? Will She have the moral right to order the troops to continue fighting counter insurgency in J&K when She cannot protect their actions ? The army as an after thought has filed a counter FIR. The ruling party People’s PDF and their coalition partner BJP were seen to be pulling in the opposite directions creating a jamlog in the state. Father of Major Aditya Kumar, a serving decorated soldier himself has moved the Supreme Court to dismiss FIR filed by the civil police in the incident. Two army children have gone to National Human Rights Commission to safeguard the interest of army personnel who were on active duty when the incident took place. Where is this nation heading to when politicians are only looking at the electoral benefits and the kith and kin of army soldiers safeguarding the nations are fighting legal battles on their behalf. Ever since the surgical strikes launched by Indian Army across the Line of Control (LC) the intensity of exchange of fire by both sides has increased resulting in larger number of casualties on both sides. This year itself nine army soldiers including two officers have got martyred. The aggressiveness shown by political leaders with an eye on the assembly elections in some states is further accentuating the situation. The army is really caught between the devil and the deep sea. Pakistan has further gone up the escalation ladder by using missiles in Rajauri-Punch sector. Track two diplomacy efforts need to be enhanced in order to bring down both nations from the escalatory ladder. The Indian Army has a track record of excellent human rights record and always carries out surgical operations based on hard intelligence. Many a times benefit of doubt is given to terrorists and they are able to escape if the information is not confirmed. In the United Nations Peacekeeping, Indian Army is respected for its impartiality and professionalism. There have been incidents where Indian Army has bought casualties in order to save civilian lives and it does not believe in collateral damage. [caption id="attachment_24912" align="alignnone" width="708"] Shopian: People participate in the funeral procession of a 19-year-old Rayees Ahmad who was injured in security force firing in Shopian district succumbed to injuries at Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS); at Narpora village of Shopian district on Jan 31, 2018. (Photo: IANS)[/caption] The Indian Army uses minimum commensurate force and has seldom resorted to the use of air power or drones as is common for Unites States, Israel, Pakistan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Russia and a host of nations in Africa and Middle East. The Army through meaningful development projects through Operation Sambhavana and helping the locals during the floods couple of years ago, had built a very nice rapport with the locals and made genuine efforts on perception management. All those efforts have been eroded since this coalition government came into power and the situation further drifted after the death of Mufti Mohammed Syed. The separatists backed by Pakistan have succeeded in creating the crevasses between the people and the army due to inconsistencies shown by the state and central governments. The junior leaders of the army in the field are our main stay. Due to this situation they are unsure of what action and direction to take in similar situations. Both the coalition partners in the state of J&K have failed the nation and must take the blame. There is a provision in the constitution to dissolve a state government if it works against the sanctity and security of the nation. The time has come in Jammu and Kashmir for the Centre to dissolve the assembly and institute Governor’s rule in the troubled state.]]>