Nagaland to seek AFSPA repeal; Hornbill fest called off

Nagaland to seek AFSPA repeal; Hornbill festival suspended

The state-deployed Special Investigative Team (SIT) will investigate the killing in Mon and conclude the probe within a month

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio addresses the funeral of the 13 people who were allegedly killed by Armed Forces, in Mon district. Credit: PTI Photo

Nagaland Cabinet on Tuesday decided to write to the Centre with a request to repeal the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) and called off the ongoing Hornbill festival amid public anger against the killing of 14 civilians by the army on Saturday and Sunday.

Announcing the decisions of the cabinet, which had an emergency meeting, government spokesperson and minister Neiba Kronu told reporters in Kohima said the cabinet also asked the special investigation team to complete its investigation into the killings within one month.

"The government has decided to write to the Centre that the AFSPA be repealed keeping in mind the strong public sentiment against the law," he said.

Also Read | AFSPA is the main culprit, it has bred animosity: Nagaland Rajya Sabha MP 

The decision comes a day after Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio sought repeal of the AFSPA and called it a draconian law. He said a democratic country like India should have no place for such a draconian law.

Another minister and BJP president in the state, Temjen Imna Along said that the cabinet decided to write to the Centre as the state is declared a "disturbed area" by the Centre every six months and AFSPA extended after consultation with the state government.

"We hope the Centre will understand the public sentiment and repeal the AFSPA. We are representatives of the people and it is our duty to convey the public demand to the Centre," he said adding that the state unit of BJP would also take up the public demand with the party's national leadership. 

Also Read | AFSPA: What is it? Where is it in effect? Why the clamour for a repeal? 

DH on Sunday reported that the killing of the civilians by security forces in Mon triggered fresh demand to repeal the controversial AFSPA and their withdrawal from the Northeast. The AFSPA is now in force in the entire Nagaland, Assam, Manipur (barring Municipal areas in Imphal district) and some parts of Arunachal Pradesh. The act was withdrawn from Meghalaya in 2018 after the law and order situation in the state improved. 
 
Under the act, the security forces can use force or even open fire after giving a warning if they feel the person is in contravention of the law. They can also search a house or arrest a person without a warrant.
 
Hornbill festival:

The annual Hornbill festival that showcases the state's colours of culture before the visitors from different parts of the world began on December 1. The festival was scheduled go continue till December 10. The festival last year was organised virtually due to Covid-19 and this year a large number of tourists were supposed to visit to enjoy the music, dance, food and others. 

Also Read — Army made no attempt to identify civilians before shooting, tried to 'hide' bodies: Report

"Since all activities in the festival will remain ceased, the government decided to appeal to the elected representatives, government employees and others to support the entrepreneurs by buying their products which were put up for sale in the festival. We hope the visitors will empathise with sentiments of the people and would visit the state again," the minister said.

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