Govt panel to decide withdrawal of AFSPA from Nagaland

Panel formed to decide withdrawal of AFSPA from Nagaland

The clamour for the scrapping of AFSPA grew louder after 13 civilians were gunned down by security forces at Nagaland's Oting village

Union Minister of Home Affairs and Cooperation Amit Shah. Credit: PTI Photo

The Union Home Ministry has decided to constitute a committee for taking a decision regarding withdrawal of disturbed area tag and the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, (AFSPA), 1958 from Nagaland amid growing anger against killings of 14 civilians by army on December 4 and 5. 

This was decided in a meeting chaired by Union Home Minister, Amit Shah in New Delhi on Thursday, which was convened to discuss the current situation in Nagaland following the killings in Oting village in Mon district. The meeting was attended by Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, Nagaland deputy Chief Minister Y. Patton and former Chief Minister TR Zeliang. 

Also Read | Nagaland peace talks, AFSPA: Is the ball finally in Modi's court?

The five-member committee will be headed by Additional Secretary (Northeast) in the MHA, Chief Secretary and Director General of Police, Nagaland, Inspector General of Assam Rifles (Northeast) and representatives of CRPF.

"The committee will submit its report within 45 days and withdrawal of Disturbed Area and AFSPA from Nagaland will be based on recommendations of the committee," said a statement of the meeting. The statement was made public by Rio in Kohima on sunday. 

The clamour for withdrwal of AFSPA from Nagaland and rest of Northeast have grown since 13 coal miners were gunned down by 21 special para forces of the army near Oting village on December 4. One protester was killled by Assam Rifles personnel on December 5 at Mon. As the anger against the killings and the AFSPA grew, Nagaland Assembly on December 20 unanimously passed a resolution demanding the Centre to withdraw AFSPA from the state and rest of the Northeast. 

Also read: Centre imposed AFSPA against state's wishes: Nagaland CM Neiphiu Rio

The meeting also decided that a court of inquiry will initiate disciplinary proceedings against the army unit and army personnel found directly involved into Oting incident and action will be taken immediately on the basis of fair inquiry. "The identified persons who will face the inquiry will be placed under suspension with immediate effect," said the statement. 

Nagaland government will also provide government jobs to the next of kin of the victims. 

The steps come after residents of Oting village declined to accept the interim compensation offered by the government to the family of the deceased and "prohibited" entry of security forces into the village. 

Also read: Nagaland Assembly passes resolution demanding repeal of AFSPA

Army again regrets the killings: 

The 3 Corps of Army issued a statement on Sunday in which it again regretted the killing of innocent civilians at Oting village. 

"The inquiry ordered by Army is progressing expeditiously and all efforts are being made to conclude it at the earliest. The Indian Army is also fully cooperating with the Special Investigation Team(SIT) inquiry ordered by state government required details are being  shared in timely manner. We request all brothers and sisters of Nagaland to be patient and wait for the findings of the Army inquiry. We assure you that action will be taken in accordance with the law to secure justice for all," said the army statement.

The army on December 5 issued a statement in which it first regretted the incident and its aftermath. It, however, said an operation was launched in the area based on "specific intelligence" about movement of insurgents. 

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