The Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland, or NSCN (I-M), has said the “Indo-Naga” political talks will not be meaningful under the shadow of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958.
The NSCN (I-M) is the key player in the peace process that has been hanging fire since 1997 when the extremist group had declared a ceasefire. Several factions of the rival Khaplang group came on board the peace process from 2001.
Referring to the December 4 killing of 14 civilians by the armed forces at Oting village in Nagaland’s Mon district, the NSCN (I-M) said it has now been driven to the point of taking a stand on the draconian AFSPA.
“This notorious AFSPA has given the Indian security forces the licence to shoot and kill anyone on mere suspicion... The Nagas have had the bitter taste of this act on numerous occasions and it has spilt enough blood. Blood and political talks cannot go together... No political talks will be meaningful under the shadow of the AFSPA,” the outfit said.
“Let human dignity take control and be made an integral part of the Naga political peace process. Unfortunately, the Oting killing has become a threat to the Nagas’ longing for Naga political solution.” It said the Centre must immediately withdraw the AFSPA if it wants to do justice to the Naga people.
The NSCN (I-M) said the soldiers, “emboldened by the Act beyond measure”, have been treating the Nagas like sub-human beings without the fear of any scrutiny of court of law.
“Therefore, this time around, the Naga people expect that the judgment [of the special investigation team probing the December 4 incident] must be transparent and must be swiftly delivered. This is the only way to establish absolute fidelity between the Naga people and the Government of India,” the statement said.
‘Soldiers caught red-handed’
The NSCN (I-M) also issued a strong rebuttal to the statement Home Minister Amit Shah had made in Parliament on the December 4 incident.
In a situation like this, Mr. Shah was expected to show political maturity and statesmanship to cool down the socio-political upheavals. But he poured fuel on the burning issue by standing behind the heinous act of killings by the para commandos, which was like rubbing salt in the wounds of the Nagas, it said.
The NSCN (I-M) called the December 4 operation “a deliberate mission to kill and nothing to do with ‘credible’ intelligence of the NSCN movement in the area”.
The outfit accused the armed forces of stripping naked the bodies and trying to wrap them up in military dress to give the impression that they had gunned down militants. “They were caught red-handed by the villagers before they could succeed in their plan,” it said.