NPF fumes over extension of Disturbed Area Act in Nagaland

Extension of the Act is a manifestation of the utter disregard the Central Government has for the voices of small states, particularly in North-East India

Kohima: The Naga People’s Front (NPF) said today that it “is aghast and affronted to learn through ‘The Gazette of India: Extraordinary’ that the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, has issued a notification dated- New Delhi, the 30th of December 2021 to extend the Disturbed Area Act in Nagaland State for a further six months with effect from December 30, 2021, ‘in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (No. 28 of 1958), the Notification affirms”.

That this extension is an immediate aftermath of the 23rd December Meeting convened by the Union Home Minister Amit Shah with Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma that also included Deputy CM Nagaland Y. Patton and the leader of the NPF Legislature T.R Zeliang wherein, the Centre instituted a committee to examine the withdrawal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in Nagaland, is a case of adding further insult to injury.

In a statement, the NPF alleged that this extension of the Act is a manifestation of the utter disregard the Central Government has for the voices of small states, particularly in North-East India, considering that the Nagaland Legislative Assembly had convened a special one-day session on December 20, 2020 to deliberate on AFSPA (1958) and the House had unanimously resolved to demand its repeal. The statement of the NPF also said, “It may be mentioned that, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, Deputy Chief Minister Y. Patton and the leader of the NPF Legislature T.R Zeliang had issued a signed statement in a press conference after the December 23 meeting expressing gratitude to the Union Home Minister Amit Shah for ‘taking the matter with utmost seriousness and positively responding to the voices of the people.’” It added that any discerning person is made to wonder if there is any modicum of co-ordination or even communication between the Executive and Legislative branches of the Central Government. They had further lauded the “restraint and maturity” exhibited by the Nagas by stating that ‘the democratic and peaceful nature of the civil society groups, tribal hohos and mass- based organisations in our collective quest for justice and truth has been well received and has created a positive image of the Naga people to the rest of the global community.’ However, the NPF said it is convinced that “this restraint and maturity” must be reciprocated in a positive way by repealing undemocratic legislations and oppressive laws. It added that the continued extension of this Act is nothing but an attempt to exploit the long suffering of the Naga people.

The NPF then said that when the December 4, 2021 Oting incident where “Indian armed forces killed innocent civilians is still fresh in the minds of the people with cries for justice by the whole of Naga people including the entire Northeastern region and demanded for revoking AFSPA, the announcement of extension of Disturbed Area Act for another six months is nothing but purely adding more salt to the already wounded injury”.

The NPF then said that it is committed to the removal of Disturbed Area Act and Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958 from “all the Naga area” and affirmed that it will continue to pursue all democratic means to achieve the same. The NPF asserted that it will not stay idle till the Central Government reconsiders its decision.

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