Kohima: A massive rally was held in Kohima yesterday demanding the “immediate repeal of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958 (AFSPA) and and justice for all victims of army excesses committed by the Indian Armed forces.” The rally was organised by Naga Students’ Federation (NSF).
A large number of people took part in the rally. Leaders of various organisations spoke on the occasion. After the rally, a memorandum was submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi through the Governor of Nagaland.
“The very India that prides itself to be the world’s largest democracy has adopted for itself the very repressive, oppressive and inhuman instrument to subjugate a people much against their will and aspiration. The AFSPA (as amended in 1972 and 1986) has empowered the Indian military and paramilitary war machines with unlimited powers to extend their evil claws and judicial impunity to arrest, torture, kill and to commit everything inhuman,” said the NSF in the memorandum.
It then said that for sixty years and more the Nagas have been suffering from the colonial mindset of the Indian Government and continues to suffer. “We have seen almost all our villages and fields burnt down several times, our womenfolk and mothers disgraced, our menfolk arrested without warrant or jailed without trail, our histories re-written and our indigenous and cultural practices spat upon and degraded, by Indian armies,” the memorandum also said, while, adding, “The simplicity of our life and the joys of our living have been terribly exposed to the frustration of colonialism, the sinews of three-four generations have been made to crawl under the shadows of death and psychological warfare. And yet, we have never failed ourselves thus far.”
It then said that every time the dignity of livelihood, existence, freedom and happiness is trampled upon without any remorse by the Government of Indian agencies – “these perpetrators receive medals, awards, and honour for every Naga the Indian Government war machines kill, arrest, rape, loot or torture and they continue to be free from any legal prosecution.” The memorandum also said that the AFSPA 1958, which has been imposed upon “our birth-rights ever since Indo-Naga conflict” started, protects and defends the Indian military and intelligence personnel for violating human rights and security, in clear contravention of existing international standings on war ethics, human rights, and entitlements, to which India is also a signatory.
The memorandum then said that it no longer remains a myth that the AFSPA rears the devil in the Indian armed forces personnel whose acts of impunity continues unabated as the draconian Act continues to shield them from being held accountable for their nefarious actions.
The Naga student body then substantiated what it called the “sorry state of affairs of the Naga people under the AFSPA regime by chronologically citing some major atrocities perpetrated upon the Nagas by the ruthless Indian armed forces across the Naga homeland while being shielded by the repressive AFSPA”.
It then said that incidents of the “Indian Armed forces subjugating the Naga people and even indiscriminately firing upon them is not unprecedented in our Naga Homeland as the Government of India continues to suppress the legitimate peoples’ movement through military means even after having realized that the same will not reap in the desired dividends”. The memorandum further said, “It is at the least appalling to see those trained to protect the sovereignty and integrity of India indulging in target practices with the innocent Naga civilians instead of serving the very purpose for which they are trained for”, while adding, “More so, the audacity of some Indian leaders coming out publicly to defend the atrocious acts and thereby legitimizing the murders, tortures, rapes, molestations etc upon the innocent Naga civilians and botched army operations has been deeply hurting the sentiments of the Naga people while also flaring up our emotions. This blatant attempt to finish the Naga race through an undeclared war cannot be accepted, come what may.”
The memorandum further added, “It is in this light that the NSF representing the aspirations and the voices of the Naga younger generations, spread across four Indian states and two international countries, place this representation containing three core demands, seeking your prompt attention and intervention” that include immediate justice for the Oting victims and expedite judgements and delivery of justice to all pending cases related to excesses committed by the Indian Armed Forces upon Nagas.
The NSF also demanded that the Government of India sets up a court monitored committee to be headed by a retired Supreme Court/High court judge in-order to ensure that the Oting incidents are probed in a fair and impartial manner. The Federation reiterated its stand that the Special Investigation Team (SIT) being set up by the government of Nagaland will not do justice to the wilful acts of the Indian Armed forces under the protection of the repressive AFSPA. “More so, the Government of India must admit to the utter failure of its intelligence agencies and publicly apologize to the Naga people for furthering their subjugation of the Nagas through its policy of militarisation. Justice should be delivered immediately to the victims of the gruesome Oting incidents and to all the pending cases related to the excesses committed by the Indian armed forces,” it added.
1) The NSF also demanded immediate repeal of the draconian Armed forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958.
“The Federation sees no rationale as to why the entire Naga homeland within India is tagged as ‘disturbed areas’ and the repressive AFSPA is thrust upon its people when the Indo-Naga political dialogue’s been held at the Prime Minister’s level is at a very crucial stage,” the memorandum said. More so, the prevailing law and order situation in the Naga inhabited areas does not merit the Act which has only been used as a tool for psychological warfare against the Naga people, it further said. “It is only because of AFSPA that the Indian armed forces continue to operate with impunity while forgetting all values & virtues that inhibits a sober soul. It is, therefore, demanded of the GOI to immediately withdraw the atrocious AFSPA from our Naga homeland and also repeal the same without any excuses whatsoever,” the memorandum added.
The NSF then demanded that the Naga political issue is resolved. It said that the Nagas in the course of standing for their unique history and pursuing our common goal have suffered enough. “The sacrifices of many Nagas whether they are dead or alive, is not a struggle for Naga identity alone; It is also a struggle for self determination, a struggle against the imposition of alien culture and values upon us,” it also said.
“It is in this background that NSF made its standpoint crystal clear that economic packages or monetary assistance cannot purchase the rights of the Naga people,” the NSF also said in the memorandum. It added that the “envisaged solution” must be mutually agreed upon on the negotiating table and not an imposed one. “Rather, the Government of India should not hesitate from allowing the Naga people to retain their legitimate rights,” it added.
The memorandum then said that given the official recognition of the unique history of the Nagas by the Government, the “Naga people strongly urge your Hon’ble self to not compare or subject the Naga issue to any other political issues in the country and that the promise of a unique solution based on the unique history which is inclusive, honourable & acceptable is brought forth at the earliest”.
The NSF memorandum to the Prime Minister then concluded by saying, “We appeal in the greater interest of the Nagas and other communities and the Indian nation to impartially and honourably deliberate the issues emerging from the situation in order to usher in an era of peace through optimum utilisation of your political will”.