AFSPA Repeal : Centre Yet To Publicize ‘Terms Of Reference’ For 5-Member Committee

Posted in Featured, Nagaland, Northeast


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Recent killings of innocent civilians across the Mon district of Nagaland due to the incessant spraying of bullets by Indian Army has led to extreme rage across Northeastern regions. In a bid to prevent further repercussions and escalation of clamour, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) have recently instituted a 5-member committee which will be headed by Registrar General of India Dr. Vivek Joshi.

This panel will examine the possibility of withdrawing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958 from the northeastern state of Nagaland.

Both the Nagaland Government and MHA have issued press releases informing about the constitution of a panel.

As per the press release issued by MHA, in order to review AFSPA 1958 across the northeastern state of Nagaland, a committee of officers is constituted with following members – Dr. Vivek Joshi, Registrar General & CCI will act as the Chairman. The members include – J. Alam, Chief Secretary, Nagaland; Lt. Gen P.C. Nair, Director General (DG) of Assam Rifles; T. John Longkumer, Director General of Police (DGP) of Nagaland; Dr. M.S. Tuli, JD, IB; Piyush Goyal, Ministry of Home Affairs as Member Secretary.

However, Lt. Gen. B.S. Raju, DGMO shall act as the Special Invitee to the Committee. The panel members have been directed to make suitable recommendations on the same within a period of 3 months.

But the Ministry is yet to publicize and notify the “terms of reference”, associated with the case.

The decision to constitute a panel was undertaken during a late-night meeting of the Union Minister of Home Affairs & Cooperation Amit Shah with the Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and his Nagaland counterpart Neiphiu Rio, which was held at North Block, New Delhi.

After the meeting on December 26, the Nagaland Government have issued a press release which was signed by the leader of Naga People’s Front Legislature Party (NPFLP) T. R. Zeliang, Deputy Chief Minister of Nagaland Y. Patton, and Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio.

This release asserted that the committee will submit its report within 45 days and repeal of “Disturbed Areas” and AFSPA from Nagaland will be based on recommendations of the panel.

On June this year, the Centre had declared Nagaland as “Disturbed Area” and further extended the operation of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 for 6 more months. The AFSPA has been in force in Nagaland for several decades.

Disturbed Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1976, asserts that once declared “disturbed”, the area has to maintain the status quo for a minimum of three months. Under this act, in a “disturbed” area, an officer has full power to warn, or open fire and other kinds of forces against the person who is acting against law.

If The Hindu report is taken into account, the botched army operation in Oting Village and merciless killings of innocent civilians have emerged as a “stumbling block” to the Naga peace talks.

Repealing AFSPA from the Naga land stood to be one of the key points been included in the final peace agreement. Besides, the Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) have also demanded the same.

An NNPG member told The Hindu, “The Government of India has in principle agreed during the talks that AFSPA will be removed. It is very much part of our agenda.”

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