Nagaland seeks AFSPA repeal, scraps ongoing Hornbill Festival
Ensure punishment of all soldiers involved in massacre, major tribe urges President
Nagaland’s Mon district observed a shut down on Tuesday to protest against the killing of 14 civilians by the security forces while the State Government called off a major ongoing festival as a mark of respect to the deceased.
The Government also decided to write to the Centre to immediately repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, from the State. The Act, deemed draconian, is said to give the armed forces the licence to kill.
Government spokesperson and Planning Minister Neiba Kronu said the Cabinet, at an emergency meeting in Kohima on Tuesday, discussed the botched ambush by an elite force in Mon’s Oting village on December 4.
“The Cabinet decided that the special investigation team headed by an IGP should complete its probe into the Mon incident and submit its report within a month. It also decided to write to the Government of India for repealing the AFSPA immediately from the State,” he told journalists.
He said the Cabinet had decided to cancel the ongoing Hornbill Festival in view of the mourning announced for the deceased and to express solidarity with the bereaved families.
The 10-day annual marque festival that attracts tourists from all over began on December 1, marking the day Nagaland attained statehood in 1963. The Tourism Department has been asked to wind up the festival — barring the entrepreneurial activities — with a short, solemn closing ceremony.
Mr. Kronu said two persons injured in the Mon incident were still in a critical condition in a hospital in Dibrugarh and six others are under treatment in Dimapur while 22 persons have been discharged.
“Further, we have decided to support the demands that the Konyak Union has put forward to the President of India,” he said.
The Konyak Union, apex body of the dominant Naga tribe in Mon, had imposed the district bandh on Tuesday to protest against the “massacre” and its violent aftermath besides the scrapping of the AFSPA.
The union also declared seven-day mourning across the district from Wednesday and asked the armed forces to abstain from patrolling in the Konyak region during this period.
In a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind, the union demanded the identification and booking of all Army personnel involved in the incident. “The action taken against the erring soldiers should be put in the public domain within a month,” it said.
The union asked the President to ensure two members from the Eastern Nagaland Peoples’ Organisation (ENPO) in an independent team under a competent investigation agency for probing the incident.
Declaring non-cooperation against the armed forces, the union said all units of the 27 Assam Rifles must vacate the Mon district for failing to provide security to the citizens. It accused the security forces of defying the ENPO’s declaration of December 18, 2007, forbidding bloodshed in the areas under the jurisdiction of the organisation.
The ENPO areas are inhabited by six Naga communities.