New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the centre has made it clear that the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) will not be repealed any time soon, further straining the party’s relations with the Naga People’s Front (NPF), its ally of 13 years in Nagaland.
Trouble has reportedly been brewing in Nagaland between the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN)-led government and the BJP since BJP MLA Mmhonlumo Kikon was removed as parliamentary secretary. A large section of the BJP has been demanding that the party pull out of the DAN government.
The opposition, citing alleged extra-judicial killings in Manipur, has been saying the Northeast is on the brink of a humanitarian crisis because of AFSPA. Senior Congress leader Ambika Soni had sought a response from the home ministry on the insurgent situation in the region and on whether the Army was reviewing it.
In July, the Supreme Court also said indefinite deployment of armed forces in the region was a mockery of the democratic process. However, the government has made it clear that AFSPA will not be repealed any time soon.
“The Supreme Court has not struck down AFSPA in view of extra-judicial killings in Manipur. It has reiterated the views expressed by the Constitution Bench of the apex court in Naga People’s Movement of Human Rights that an allegation of excessive force resulting in the death of any person by the Manipur Police or the armed forces in Manipur must be thoroughly enquired into,” minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju said in Rajya Sabha on Monday.
Activists have alleged 1,528 cases of “extra-judicial killings” by the army and other security forces during 2010-12 in Manipur.
The centre in June declared all of Nagaland a “disturbed area”. The centre has declared disturbed the “whole state of Nagaland,” Satyendra Garg, joint secretary, northeast division in the ministry of home affairs, said in an order in June.
Ignoring the regional political tension, however, Rijiju remained resolute and insisted that all measures were being taken to prevent any misuse of AFSPA by security forces. He also said punitive measures were likely to be taken against the forces in case of violation of human rights or safety of women and children.
“AFSPA is reviewed periodically and an objective assessment of the ground situation is made in consultation with security agencies and the concerned state governments. Specific instructions have been issued to the armed forces operating in ‘disturbed area’, violation of which make them liable for prosecution under the Army Act and Central Armed Police Forces Acts,” Rijiju added.
The government has also been in talks with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland – Isak and Muivah (NSCN -IM). The home affairs ministry maintains that while the talks have been positive, a final agreement with the NSCN (IM) will be considered only later.