TODAY -

Shocker from 'friends of northeast people's
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: December 07, 2021 -



EXPECTEDLY, various rights groups and student organisations have raised the demand for scrapping of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 after violent clashes in Nagaland's Mon district left 14 civilians and an Assam Rifles trooper dead while scores of civilians suffered injuries of varying degrees.

While prima facie evidences point to failure of military intelligence operatives as root cause for the paramilitary forces to gun down civilians travelling in a pick-up truck that triggered the bloody clashes in Nagaland, where all but one faction of an insurgency group have joined the peace process, the civil societies have every reason to believe that the carnage wouldn't have happened had the men in uniform not been constitutionally granted unbridled power to act on impulse rather than with reasoning.

This incident has definitely done great damage to the paramilitary forces, the Assam Rifles in particular, which have been working towards reconciliation with the local population through civic action programmes and proclaiming themselves as friends of the northeast people.

Without an iota of doubt, the Assam Rifles has been reaching out to the unreached pockets of the mountainous north-eastern states and extending assistance in varied forms to the most underprivileged section of the society.

From conducting regular medical camps to distributing essential items and sports goods, the country's oldest paramilitary force has been successful in winning the hearts of the people with drastic decline in the number of insurgency-related incidents across the region also contributing immensely in its endeavour to ring out the message that creating peaceful environment will ultimately helpthe denizens live a prosperous life.

However, the Mon district incident of indiscriminate firing on a truckload of civilian workers returning home from a coal mining area, apparently due to 'mistaken identity', and killing six people on the spot would make one wonder whether activities carried out under the civic action programmes are merely damage control exercises to cover up instances of excesses committed against the civilians under the garb of counter-insurgency operations.

Notably, reports of an angry mob rushing to the incident spot to confront the Assam Rifles as well as attacking its camp corroborate that denizens in this insurgency-prone part of the region see the security personnel as trigger-happy and hostile.

On its part, the Army has accepted intelligence failure as cause of the unfortunate loss of lives and ordered investigation at the highest level.

While it is hoped that the assurance given to initiate appropriate action as per the course of law will help prevent further eruption and escalation of violent acts, only time will tell how swift the justice delivery system would be for similar acts of excesses involving the army personnel in Manipur are being investigated since the past many years consequent to the Supreme Court allowing petitions over stage-managed killings.

If at all the assured justice cannot be delivered at the earliest possible, then it is obvious that the civil societies and rights organisations will pitch for scrapping the pro-military AFSPA 1958 from the region, where no security forces involved in killing civilians and indigenous people of the region have ever been charged or put behind bars for the wrongs done.



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