TODAY -

Mon firing stokes demand for AFSPA scrap
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: December 08, 2021 -



FROM the military perspective, imposition of the controversial Armed Forces' Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958 in the north-eastern states and Jammu & Kashmir is seen as a necessity to aid the security forces in containing insurgency movement but the recent killing of innocent civilians in Mon district of Nagaland has laid bare the fact that brutal aspect of the Act could befall on anybody while the perpetrators escape exemplary punishment.

Whenever militants attack security forces, government authorities justify promulgation of the Act as indispensable to maintain law and order whereas misuse of the same law is passed off as inadvertent lapses on the part of the men in uniform. Amid outcries from various sections of the northeast over the Mon firing incident, Union home minister Amit Shah has given the assurance to complete probe by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) within a month and advised all agencies to ensure such happenings do not recur while taking action against insurgents.

While investigation into the incident is inevitable there is no guarantee that those responsible for slaying the innocent coal mine workers, who were officially mistaken as insurgents, would be made to face the music or the Union government would cede to the demand for repealing the AFSPA, which many in the region construe as only aiding the cause of insurgent groups.

Regardless of the home minister informing the parliamentarians on Monday that the government is keeping a close watch on the evolving situation and necessary measures are being taken up to ensure peace and tranquillity in the region, it is unlikely that the restive situation would subside in view of the general consensus that the AFSPA must be lifted from the region or reviewed.

There is no doubt that as oer the provisions of AFSPA security forces operating in insurgency-prone northeast don't exercise any sort of restraint but perceive every person bearing mongoloid features as a threat as had been illustrated by Amit Shah's narration on the sequence of events related to the Mon outrage.

Probably based on inputs of army authorities the home minister stated that the vehicle carrying the coal mine workers tried to speed on when signalled to stop, thus forcing the elite para-commando troopers to open fire suspecting the presence of insurgents in the vehicle.

While the army's version is yet to be contested as six out of eight occupants of the vehicle are dead and the two survivors are undergoing treatment, it could be safely concluded that the well-trained para-commandos wouldn't have resorted to indiscriminate firing in a similar situation in any other part of the country where AFSPA in not applied.

Thus, it is only natural that the demand for reviewing imposition of AFSPA is gaining momentum across the northeast apart from the same sentiment voiced by Lok Sabha members, who condemned the Nagaland incident, demanded an impartial probe and called for the repeal of the repressive Act.

Interestingly, BJP chief ministers in the north-eastern states seem indifferent to the general sentiment of doing away with AFSPA unlike Nagaland CM Neiphiu Rio and his Meghalaya counterpart Conrad Sangma who have categorically stated that there are so many Acts and provisions to deal with the insurgency, and voiced dissent against the AFSPA that allows security forces in the world's largest democracy to conduct raids, arrest anyone anywhere without prior notice and enjoy immunity even after elimination of harmless civilians.



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