- Loreni Tsanglao, NET Correspondent, Nagaland
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. Amid the escalating clamour to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on December 30, 2021 once again extended the controversial law for another 6 months in the entire state of Nagaland.
Responding to the move and in a bid to mark their rage, the residents hailing from the northeastern state of Nagaland is all set to march from Dimapur to Raj Bhavan in Kohima on January 10, demanding an immediate repeal of this act.
According to a press release issued by the Co-ordinators of “March Against AFSPA”, they received a overwhelming response from the citizens, when the decision to initiate concerned march was undertaken. It asserted, “When the clarion call was given for the peaceful and non-violent March against AFSPA, the response was overwhelming. The Naga public which has for long silently bore the brunt of army atrocities under the draconian act has decided to come together to oppose such denigration and to assert our rights and dignity as Human Beings.”
Covering a distance of over 70 kms on foot in two days, the “March against AFSPA : Walk from Dimapur to Kohima” will commence from Supermarket in Dimapur, near the Garden at 6 AM on January 10 and culminate at Raj Bhavan in Kohima.
Citizens will hold this peaceful & non-violent March at Phiphema for night. While, the same will continue again to reach Kohima on January 11 at 6:00 AM, and will be received by the masses and members of various other bodies.
Meanwhile, the release further mentions that all kinds of logistics have been arranged for the day, and citizens have been given the allowance to retire at any point or join the March from any point. The volunteers/walkers are requested to note the following points mentioned below :
1. Carry one’s own sleeping bags.
2. Carry one’s own toiletries, torches, necessary gadgets and accessories.
3. Pickup truck to carry personal belongings have been arranged.
4. Buses for transportation back to Dimapur have been arranged.
5. Wear walking shoes.
6. Follow Covid SOPs.
7. Maintain single file of walking and not obstruct traffic.
8. No littering at any place.
“Special request to listen and obey the authorities and not indulge in any form of violence nor destroy public property. Requesting the participants not to show our emotions, heckle or harass military personnel on duty or disturb military convoy. This is a purely non-violent and peaceful March. We shall silently march till the end. Also Ambulances will accompany the walkers but just a reminder that if anyone have prior medical conditions or are not in good health to not participate taking how arduous the walk into account.” – the release further reads.
Its worthy to note that on June 2021, 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. But the tragic incident of December 4, when innocent civilians identified as coal-miners were gunned down by security forces in Mon district of Nagaland have once again renewed the voices for AFSPA repeal.
This unfortunate incident is basically the repercussion of botched army operation, which mistook the civilians as insurgents from the Yung Aung faction of the banned militant outfit – National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K).
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.