Ukhrul: Joining hands with the Naga brethren of Konyak in Nagaland over Oting and Mon killings of 14 innocent civilians in the name of mistaken identity, ‘Naga Mass Rally’ or ‘People’s Rally was organised here in Ukhrul town on Friday demanding unconditional repeal of AFSPA from Naga homeland and Northeast India and justice for all the 14 victims of excesses perpetrated by the Indian armed forces.
The protesters held placards and banners that read, “Treat Nagas as equal human being,” “How many times bullets must be fired before repealing AFSPA?” “How many more orphans, windows and widowers before repealing AFSPA?” “The undeclared war on civilians must be stop,” “Indian army go back,” “Stop killing innocent lives under the shadow of AFSPA”.
Organised by All Naga Student Association Manipur, Tangkhul Katamnao Saklong and the frontal civil society organisations under the banner of Naga Students’ Federation, the mass rally was attended by ANSAM and its federating units, Naga People Movement for Human Rights representatives, United Naga Council, Naga Women Union Manipur, Tangkhul Naga Long, Tangkhul Naga Wungnao Long, various civil leaders, students and general public.
In a memorandum submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ANSAM demanded for immediate repeal of AFSPA 1958 and justice for all 14 victims.
Speaking at the rally, NSF vice president Atokiho Sumi maintained that today’s mass rally at Ukhrul has been called to voice out the resentment of the Nagas against the draconian and oppressive AFSPA. So long as this Act continue to exist, our lives, land and people will always be tormented by fear and uncertainty.”
Atokiho Sumi made this statement while expressing the student’s federation deep condolences to the family members of the departed souls, whose lives were brutally cut short by the Indian security forces in the name of AFSPA while demanding Government of India to set up a court monitor committee headed by a retired Supreme Court and High Court judge so that the infamous Oting killing incidents are probed in a fair and impartial manner.
Reiterating NSF earlier stance, he maintained that Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up by the Nagaland Government will do justice to the willful acts of the Indian armed forces shielded under the protection of the repressive AFSPA.
He then questioned the logic behind putting the entire Nagas area under ‘Disturbed Areas and AFSPA when the Indo-Naga political peace talks held at the Prime Minister level is at very crucial stage, adding that where it was supposed to be season of light, hope and healing, the Indian armed forces acting on behalf of the State had unleashed terror and fear in the hearts and minds of the people.
TKS president, Shimri Raising speaking at the rally made a clarion call to the Naga youths to stand united. “Dear young blood of the Nagas, let us not forget that we were born as free people and we shall live as a free people, saying, freedom is our birthright, and that no forces on earth can steal our legitimate rights.
Nagas are peace loving people and when our rights are challenged, the blood of the headhunters that our forebears still flows in our vein. Together we shall rise and fight against all the atrocities and inhumane behaviour from the Indian military forces, he added.
Speaking at the occasion, human rights activist, Ningshimyao Pearl Shimray asserted that Nagas are reliving many Otings in Naga homeland.
She told this referring to the many infamous horrific incidents in history especially in Kohima, Mokokchung, Matikhru, Oinam, Ngainga, Kumram, Mao Gate, Ukhrul, among many other unthinkable episodes in Naga history. “We are not here on revenge mode. The Lord said, “Revenge is mine and not yours,” she added.
We have fully surrendered to Almighty God as a Christian… we are not deterred by this cowardly act of the Indian Army; we will not be at rest until justice is delivered to Oting victims, until ASFPA is repealed and until we become a free people once again. We are born free.
Armed Forces Special Power Act, 1958 is a devilish law exist nowhere near in democracy. I don’t know in North Korea, that permits its forces to kill its own citizen. And in Myanmar, they still kill the people but I don’t know if they have this kind of law. In India, they get away with it and… also they target the racially and ethnically distinct group of people. So, it is definitely a racist law!
She then demandes Government of India to stop playing such Politics. Indian has the audacity to call herself that she is the biggest democratic country in the world. India claimed that there is no war in Indian. But at least as mamy as 20,000 people got killed across NE only. The GoI says it is law and order problem. India contradicts herself in the International forum. ASFPA is a war time law.
If there is no war, Army should not be in any civilian spaces. For 63 years they have been using war time law on us. They killed unarmed citizens, raped our sisters, raped our mothers since 1958 and they get away without any punishment. ASFPA had failed greatly. It will multiply the tension, the hatred between the civilians and the armies, between the NE people and the mainland India. Stop terrorizing civilians, demilitarized Naga homeland and the NE, she added.
Way back in 1983, NPMHR demanded for the removal of ASFPA, it was challenged in the Supreme Court. And it’s Constitutionally was debated after 14 years in 1997 just before the ceasefire was declared. Supreme Court heard petition for 14 days. Section 6 of the Act talked about blanket impunity, license to kill – meaning its okay to kill your own people, no legal action can be prosecuted against the perpetrator, the Indian army. It gives protection to Indian army and protection from human rights violation. ASFPA violates many of the articles in Indian Constitution and also it is not in consonance with many of the law of the country. For example, Article 21, right to life, right to liberty, right to freedom of movement, these articles are all violated, Pearl Shimray said.
Unfortunately, Supreme Court did not get into these kinds of details. In the then judgment, it just came out that the parliament has the power to enact such kind of law. It gives certain guidelines of do’s n don’ts from the supreme Court but the amendment was very insignificant. The devil in the text of AFSPA still remains. National Commission for Human Right upheld ASFPA. This is the absurdity of the commission and committee in India. Despite many attempts in the past to scrap this law, it all went in vain. Government of India could not convince the army force because of their lack of political will. This shows that India is ruled by military and not democracy. Since the Government of India could not show their democratic strengt. “We have so much of failures but we must not give up. We must come out stronger over Oting. We must come together. We will all walk with you Konyak People. This fight is of Nagas and not of Konyak alone,” Pearl remarked.
Veronica Zingkhai, president TSL expressed her deepest condolences to the bereaved families brutally murdered by the Indian army on December 4 and 5 at Oting village and Mon town. “We pray that God keep them safe in his hand and also console and comfort the families,” she prayed.
We also express our prayers that those of them who are still undergoing treatment be healed by God. Looking back at the atrocities committed by the Indian armed force, it is well known to us that these ugly episodes have been a recurring scene in our midst much to our dismay. As a woman, and a mother we have thinking, trying to understand if India and the Indian Armed forces ever have their family, ever have their mothers and brothers or sisters, the visibly saddened Zingkhai said.
Where have they come from? Have they come from a different planet? Are they not born by their mothers? How can they be so brutal? Was it enacted to kill innocent people, to harass, to molest, to rape people? Veronica questioned.
The Assam Riffles, as we have all know, seen and their tall claimed slogan “Friends of the hill people is a shame. Shame on them! They are a foe! They should throw away their hypocrisy. Why do they try to say that they are friends when they are the enemies of the hill people. Nagas don’t need the Indian army, Nagas don’t need the Assam Riffles to protect us,” she added.
“We can protect ourselves as we have our state forces, the police who can help us. We can live like normal people. We are God’s chosen people.” TSL president thundered while condemning the decades long atrocities Indian military has been religiously perpetrating in the guise of the inhuman AFSPA.
The resource persons at the rally meanwhile called for immediate and total repeal of AFSPA from Northeat States saying it is an unlawful act in a democratic country like India and demanded that the act must be scraped because such Act has no placed in a civilised society where women are raped and molested without any remorse and scores rendered orphans, widows, and widowers under the impunity of AFSPA.