Nagaland to ask Centre to repeal AFSPA; Hornbill Fest called off

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Nagaland to ask Centre to repeal AFSPA; Hornbill Fest called off
Kohima: The Nagaland government on Tuesday in its first cabinet meeting — after the December 4 firing by the security forces that left 14 civilians dead and 30 others injured, decided to urge the Central government once again to withdraw the Armed Forces Special Power Act, 1958 (AFSPA) from the state.

After the Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, Planning and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Neiba Kronu said that the Cabinet has decided to write to the Centre to immediately repeal the AFSPA.

The AFSPA, in force for many years in certain parts of Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh besides Nagaland, allows the Army and paramilitary forces to conduct raids, and arrest anyone anywhere without prior notice or arrest warrant.

Rio on Monday after paying tributes to the slain civilians had said: “We have been asking the government to repeal the AFSPA from the entire country. This is a draconian law. There are so many acts and provisions to deal with the insurgency. India is a great democratic nation. Such an act and its misuse damages the image of the country.”

Kronu, who is also the spokesman of the Nagaland government, said that the state government has directed the Special Investigating Team to probe the incident thoroughly and submit the report within a month.

The 5-member SIT would conduct the investigation under the overall supervision of Additional Director General of Police, Law and Order, Sandeep M. Tamgadge.

Meanwhile, the Army also initiated the court of inquiry into Saturday’s incident.

The Minister, accompanied by his cabinet colleague Temjen Imna Along, said that the government, in view of the incident, has decided to suspend all cultural and other performances of the popular Hornbill Festival as a mark of respect to the slain civilians.

Only the stalls set up by the various government departments, NGOs and other organisations would remain open till December 10.

The 10-day long annual Hornbill Festival began at Kisama Heritage Village, near Kohima, on December 1.

Kronu said that while two of the seriously injured persons are undergoing treatment at a hospital in Assam’s Dibrugarh, six are being treated at a Dimapur hospital. Besides, 22 people have been discharged after treatment.

Meanwhile, on the instructions of the party President Sonia Gandhi, a Congress delegation, comprising party MPs of various northeastern states would visit Nagaland on Wednesday and expected to meet the families of the victims.

Police and leaders of various Naga organisations said that eight coal miners were returning from Tiru coal mining area on late Saturday in a pick-up van when six of them shot dead by the security personnel due to “mistaken identity”, being thought as members of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang-Yung Aung.

Hearing of the incident, an angry mob rushed to the area and the Assam Rifles personnel fired in self-defence, killing seven more civilians and injuring 12.

An Assam Rifles jawan was killed in a mob attack after the incident, which took place between Oting and Tiru villages.

Several hundred angry villagers on Sunday attacked the Assam Rifles camp in Mon and the jawans opened fire in the air, killing one more person and injuring many.

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